Signs on the motorway near Deventer pointing eligible Turks out where to vote.
THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees has described efforts by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to encourage Dutch Turks to vote in the parliamentary elections next week as inappropriate.
Thousands of Dutch Turks have received a letter signed by Erdogan in which he urges them to vote. It is signed in his role as president and leader of the reigning AK party, and is being viewed as a call to vote for the ruling party.
Some 250,000 Dutch Turks can vote in the elections from Friday. Polling stations are open until Tuesday in Deventer, The Hague and Amsterdam.
Minister Koolmees, who has integration in his portfolio, said the letter is a form of unwanted foreign interference in the Netherlands. It is important that “Dutch Turks have a future in the Netherlands,” he said.
Opponents of Erdogan in the Netherlands told public broadcaster NOS the elections are extremely important because the opposition has the chance to make major gains.
“If you see what has been happening in Turkey over the past 16 years, there is now a real opportunity for change,” one said. “People are daring to talk again. There is a feeling that change could happen. And I hope it does.”
Meanwhile, five men have been given community service sentences for their role in riots outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam in March 2017. A sixth man caught up in the violence was found not guilty.
The troubles took place after the Dutch government refused to allow a Turkish minister to attend a meeting at the consulate to promote the referendum giving the Turkish president more powers.
Many people had gathered in front of the building and police brought in a water cannon to break up the crowds.
One of the five suspects, who was handed down the longest sentence of 180 hours community service, was found guilty of kicking a police officer in the head.