Govt could block Turks from voting in Germany on death penalty

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Govt could block Turks from voting in Germany on death penalty
A woman in Bavaria votes in the Turkish referendum held earlier this month to essentially expand presidential powers. Photo: DPA.

If Turkey decides to hold a referendum on reinstating the death penalty, Germany could legally block Turks within its borders from voting, according to an official government assessment.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested holding a referendum on whether to bring back the death penalty in his country, a policy change which Germany’s Foreign Minister warned against last week, saying it could end Turkey’s dream of joining the European Union.

If Turkey were to hold such a vote, a legal assessment by the research services division of the Bundestag (German parliament) found that the German government would be able to block Turks from voting in the referendum in Germany, according to Gunther Krichbaum, who requested the report.

The MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party confirmed the legal report on social media, and to the Saarbrücker Zeitung on Friday.

The assessment - seen by The Local - also found that not only could Germany forbid such votes from taking place in specially created polling sites, but the government could also theoretically block consulates and embassies from holding the vote.

The legal assessment said that it could in fact conceivably be the German government’s “duty to refuse” if the matter is regarding an “inviolable, constitutional legal standard, recognized under international law”. Furthermore, every vote for another country taking place in Germany must be applied for beforehand and approved by the German government.

Turks living in Germany, for example, were able to vote within the Bundesrepublik in the recent referendum to essentially expand Erdogan’s powers as president, which passed by a slim majority. Turkish citizens were able to do so in specially erected polling stations, as well as through diplomatic agencies in Germany.

On Wednesday the German Foreign Office’s Minister of State for Europe, Micheal Roth, told the Bundestag that the federal government had not yet received an application by the Turkish embassy to hold a referendum on the death penalty.

“Regardless of this, the federal government will not support any initiative to introduce the death penalty,” Roth said.

Christian Social Union (CSU) Secretary General Andreas Scheuer also told DPA on Friday that allowing such a referendum on the death penalty would be against German law.

“No referendum can be given on German soil that would lead to the introduction of the death penalty,” Scheuer said.

“That is what our constitutional law and common sense dictates.”

Krichbaum told the Saarbrücker Zeitung that German police would however not be able to use force to infiltrate Turkish embassies to prevent voting.

“But we should do everything possible to make it more difficult,” he said.

He further called for coordinated European action to not allow voting, should Erdogan go forward with his death penalty referendum suggestion.

“This inhumane form of punishment contradicts the essential fundamental rights of the EU.”

Green party MP Özcan Mutlu - who is of Turkish heritage - told DPA that the German government must “now already make it unambiguously clear” to Turkey that “it will not permit a referendum in Germany to reintroduce the death penalty, instead of waiting until the Turkish government presents such a request”.


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