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Most of Turkish diaspora intends to stay in ‘more democratic’ Europe, CAP report reveals

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Seventy-two percent of the Turkish diaspora in Europe wants to remain in their current countries of residence, which they say are more democratic than Turkey, according to a report drafted by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a public policy research and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The report is based on a survey conducted via by phone between November 2019 and January 2020 on 2,357 respondents in Germany, Austria, France and the Netherlands and is representative of the roughly 5 million people of Turkish origin in these four countries.

According to the report, drafted by Max Hoffman, Alan Makovsky and Michael Werz from CAP, one in five Turks living in the sampled countries say they plan to return to Turkey to live, while 72 percent plan to stay in their current country of residence.

When respondents were asked to weigh how strongly they agreed with the statement that their country of residence is more democratic than Turkey, most of them said they felt that way, with a weight of 7.07 on a 1-10 scale.

The survey revealed generally positive views of the European Union, with respondents’ giving the statement “I am proud to live in a country that is part of the EU” with average weight of 5.83 and giving 6.07 points to the statement that the EU serves their economic interests.

“When asked if they are basically satisfied with the European Union, respondents agree with an average weight of 6.57, ranging from a low of 6.22 in Austria to a high of 7.05 in France. When asked if Turkey should become an EU member, respondents are roughly divided, with an average weight of 5.81 agreeing that it should, ranging from a low of 4.88 in Austria to a high of 6.40 in France,” the report said.

“The survey also asked respondents for open-ended descriptions of the advantages of living in their current country of residence, broken down into broad categories, and their responses reflected a widely held belief that the European countries surveyed offer greater prosperity, freedom, and stability than Turkey.”

Respondents were also asked to weigh their favorability toward various Turkish political figures, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emerged as the top choice overall, with Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), being the second most popular.

Out of 10, Erdoğan has a favorability score of 5.46 and İmamoğlu of 5.04, the report said, adding that Erdoğan is viewed more favorably by older respondents, mirroring the trend in the Turkish domestic electorate, while İmamoğlu is more popular than Erdoğan in France and the Netherlands.

Turkey’s latest nationwide municipal polls, which were held on March 31, 2019, marked the end of 25 years of conservative municipal rule in İstanbul as the CHP’s İmamoğlu won the mayoral office. Erdoğan challenged the result in İstanbul, which was ultimately cancelled, and a re-run held a few months later was won again by İmamoğlu, this time by a much greater margin.

In terms of news sources to get information about politics, business, and social issues, respondents rely mainly on Turkish-language sources in all four countries, the report said, adding that older ones tend to rely more on Turkish-language sources, while younger ones are more likely to consult news sources in the language of their current country, with less-educated ones, those who only hold Turkish citizenship and those with lower incomes being far more likely to rely on Turkish-language sources.

“The Turkish community’s primary sense of identity remains overwhelmingly Turkish. On a 1–10 scale, the community rated the importance of its Turkish identity at 8.70 and the importance of its religion at 7.84. Most think of themselves first as Turkish or Muslim, rather than as Austrian, Dutch, French, or German,” the report indicated.

“Responses on the use of language reveal a clear—and unsurprising—divide between the language used at home and that used at work,” CAP further said, indicating that most respondents speak the language of the host country at work but prefer Turkish at home for reading and entertainment.

“The Turkish community feels at home in Europe overall, with its members expressing high levels of satisfaction with their living circumstances and general contentment with host nations’ integration policies,” the report concluded, emphasizing that it remains to be seen “what tendency ultimately will come to define the evolving community: integration, assimilation, multiculturalism, or some other concept entirely.”

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