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Turkish elections: Erdogan to hold rally in Sarajevo

20 May 2018, 5:43:00

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to hold an election rally in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Sunday, after three European Union countries banned Turkish politicians from campaigning on their soil, 

Austria, the Netherlands, and Germany – home to the largest Turkish diasporas – have announced that Turkish politicians were not welcome to campaign there.

Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK) rally in Sarajevo will be the only one to be held in Europe ahead of the June 24 snap Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections, which will see Turkey switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, granting the next president increased powers.

The six million Turks living abroad, mostly in Western Europe, have a lot of clout. Since 2014, about half of them have been able to vote in Turkish elections. There are 1.4 million eligible Turkish voters in Germany alone.

But, the last time Erdogan attempted to rally in Europe it ended in a fiasco. 

In March 2017, ahead of a referendum on expanding presidential powers, Dutch authorities blocked a number of Turkish officials from campaigning in the Netherlands, citing security concerns. Germany also imposed a ban on security grounds. 

This time, politicians from the three countries announced an explicit ban on Turkish campaigning in their countries.

"Erdogan's Turkish leadership has been trying to exploit Europe's communities of Turkish origin for many years," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a local radio station in April.

Although Bosnia is not in the EU, Erdogan's choice of Sarajevo has still stirred debate among the Bosnian public.

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