Çifte Vatandaşlık ve “Çelişik” Siyasal Tercih: Belçika’da Yaşayan Türkiyelilerin Ulusötesi Siyasal Katılımları Üzerine Nitel Bir Araştırma
Can Topkan, Seda
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This study is concerned with the political views, political actions and voter behaviours of individuals of Turkish origin living in Belgium with regard to politics in both Turkey and Belgium. While dual-citizen Turkish migrants and their descendants living in European countries generally support left-wing and social democratic parties, candidates of these parties and left- wing policies in the countries in which they live, mostly they support right-wing and nationalist- conservative parties, candidates and policies in Turkey. In this sense the political views and voter behaviour of Turkish immigrants and their descendants living in Belgium deserves special attention since they represent the second largest non-European minority group in Belgium and they constitute one of the Turkish immigrant groups from which AKP (Justice and Development Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have received the proportionally highest support. However, this electoral group mainly supports social democratic, socialist and environmentalist parties (such as PS, SP.A-now Vooruit, PTB, PVDA, ECOLO, GROEN) and the candidates on their lists in Belgian elections. This voting behaviour is often described as a case of “contradictory" political choice and it has been a topic for intense criticism both in European countries and in Turkey especially during election periods and has led to debates on the political utility and correctness of dual citizenship and the right to vote from abroad. This study subjects both this assumed “contradictory” behaviour and the very notion of “contradiction” to a critical examination and aims at reaching a new understanding and providing a new explanation by a qualitative examination of the underlying social, political and cultural mechanisms behinds this “contradictory” transnational political participation and how these mechanisms articulate with the structural and individual factors that determine the political thoughts and actions of these individuals. The empirical data for this study has been collected in 2017 by means of conducting in-depth interviews and focus-group discussion with a total of 93 participants and almost all of these participants live in Brussels (Brussels Capital Region), Liège (Walloon Region) and Antwerp (Flemish Region). The research findings indicate that structural and individual factors and reasons that determine the opinions of individuals on the right-left distinction and the way in which they understand and interpret their own and other voters’ behaviour in similar positions in both countries are too varied and context dependant. Therefore, any reference to a particular or dominant factor fails to account for the diversity and provide a satisfactory explanation. On the contrary, the terms "contradiction" or "consistency" derive their meaning within transnational political participation from macro and micro level possibilities and constraints determined by many and mostly intertwined factors such as immigrant and citizenship status; socio-economic level; ethnic, political and religious identities; feelings, expectations, cultural and political values; thoughts and perceptions concerning individual or collective interests and the unique social and political structures and electoral systems of both countries.
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