Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on August 18 called on Turks living in Germany not to vote for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partner in next month’s elections.
“The Christian Democrats, the Social Democratic Party, and the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey. I am calling on my countrymen to teach a lesson at the ballot box to those parties who are disrespectful toward Turkey,” Erdogan said.
3mn Turks live in Germany and around 1.2mn of them are eligible to vote.
In Germany’s 2013 elections, more than 60% of Turks voted for the Social Democrats, 12% for the Greens, and 7% for the CDU/CSU, according to Hurriyet newspaper.
Erdogan’s comments angered German politicians.
“German voters, including the ones with Turkish background, have a right to vote freely.We will not stand for any kind of interference,” Merkel responded during an election campaign in Herford, Deutsche Welle reported.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described Erdogan's comments as an "unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country".
Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been strained in the aftermath of last year’s failed coup as Turkish authorities have dismissed more than 110,000 people from their jobs and arrested at least 50,000 people, including several German nationals.
A state of emergency, declared in Turkey after the coup attempt, is still in effect in the country, having been extended four times.
Turkey accuses Germany of failing to support the Ankara government in the wake of the botched putsch in July last year, and of harbouring members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), suspected coup plotters, and the leftist DHKP-C terrorist group.