This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Is Turkey's Erdogan Trying to Play the Demographic Card in Europe?

Thanks to Abu Daoud for linking me to a very provocative story that he came across in Commentary and the Daily News suggesting that Turkish President Erdogan wants Turkish-origin residents in Europe to increase their level of fertility and thereby become the "future of Europe."
“I am calling out to my citizens, by brothers and sisters in Europe,” Erdo─čan said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Eski┼čehir on March 17. “Have not just three but five children.” “The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it. Open more businesses, enroll your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighborhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses,” he said. “That’s because you are the future of Europe. It will be the best answer to the vulgarism, antagonism, and injustice made against you.”
This seems to be Erdogan's way of lashing out at Europe--especially Germany and the Netherlands--for their having pushed back on his open attempt to persuade Turkish citizens living in Europe to vote for a new law in Turkey that would give Erdogan more power. Like many countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, Turkey allows registered voters who live outside of the country to vote in national elections. The controversy in this case is that Erdogan has wanted to actively campaign in Europe on behalf of his referendum. You can imagine the reaction in Europe and elsewhere if candidates for U.S. president sent their campaign representatives around the world to influence the votes of U.S. citizens living abroad. It is also true that the European Union's highest court has just ruled that employers can ban the wearing of head scarves at work, as long as they ban all other religious symbols worn by employees. Erdogan was vocally upset at the policy, according to The Guardian.

Unfortunately, these kinds of provocative statements by the Turkish President are likely to feed right into the populist rhetoric, which just experienced at a least a small setback this week when anti-immigrant Geert Wilders in the Netherlands fell short of gaining power in the country.

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