Police quell violence at Turkish election polling station in Amsterdam

Witnesses describe 'screaming, panic and chaos' as overseas citizens were casting votes one week early

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at a rally. Trouble flared in Amsterdam on Sunday, where Turkish-Dutch voters were casting their ballot for the general election in Turkey. Getty
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Dutch police broke up a brawl at a polling station in Amsterdam for Turkish-Dutch voters casting their vote ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in Turkey.

Witnesses described “screaming, panic and chaos” after a fight had reportedly broke out between representatives of opposing parties on Sunday night at the site where people were casting votes.

Riot police were brought in to deal with the disorder.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is up against opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in what is expected to be a close race. Overseas citizens, such as those in the Netherlands where the trouble flared, are permitted to cast their votes early.

Dutch media reports on Monday showed images of numerous police, some in riot gear, some with dogs, intervening to keep those involved apart after tensions boiled over about 9pm local time.

The fight, which broke out shortly before closing time at the ballot station at the city's RAI conference centre, apparently broke out after an argument between representatives of opposing parties, the NOS public broadcaster said.

Police in Amsterdam told news agencies the incident was under investigation, while NOS quoted an unnamed officer who said there had been "a large incident".

A witness told NOS of tensions at the RAI in recent days and said the situation exploded on Sunday.

"There was screaming, panic and chaos," the witness said.

Calm returned to the polling station a few hours later.

The brawling parties were not named.

There are about 440,000 members of the Turkish-Dutch community in the Netherlands, many descendants of guest workers who migrated west in the 1960s and 1970s.

The general election, taking place on May 14 in what is the Turkish Republic's centenary year, is Mr Erdogan's biggest test yet.

Some polls show he is trailing Mr Kilicdaroglu, who has urged his supporters in Turkey to stay at home in the event of his Republican People's Party winning next Sunday, warning "there may be riots".

Updated: May 08, 2023, 11:23 AM