Turkish candidates and the European Parliament

Published 16.05.2019 23:36
Updated 17.05.2019 00:06

In some countries, European Parliament elections will begin within seven days, while in some others, within 10 days. On May 23 and May 26, a new European Parliament will be elected.

Strangely enough, up until this day, despite many Turkish-origin voters, the European Parliament has always had quite low numbers of parliamentarians of Turkish descent.

The European Parliament, which had no more than one or two Turkish-descent parliamentarians in each period, including its latest period, has one such member of parliament across all EU member states.

Only Bulgaria is an exception to this. In this parliament, which I've worked in for two periods, even in the periods that I have worked, our numbers were no more than two. In contrast to EU member states where the number of Turkish-origin voters is rather high, (with the exception of France) in local politics, on the provincial level and on the national level dozens of Turkish-descent members of parliament are actively working in assemblies.

In every non-far-right populist party, it is possible to see elected members of Turkish descent as members of parliament. Holland, Belgium and Germany in this context are the countries that have a dense amount of such politicians.

Firstly, they are forming a rather large group in local politics. In Belgium and Germany, there are many such parliamentarians in provincial assemblies. In Germany, everybody is already accustomed to having Turkish-descent members of parliament within the federal parliament (Bundestag).

However, there is also a bitter reality. In EU member states, for a politician of Turkish descent to become a candidate from one of the mainstream parties of the country such as social democrat, Christian democrat, green, liberal or left party, they have to be "against Turkey" or at least "should not say anything positive about Turkey." This is a not written but "an unavoidable" prerequisite.

In the European Union which portrays itself as an example in regards to "freedom of thought," a Turkish-descent politician who says "I am a friend of Turkey," "Turkey is subjected to unjustified criticism" or "accusations regarding Turkey are unrealistic" has no chances of being elected. What is even worse is that if a Turkish-origin politician says that "I am supporting Turkey," they are "excommunicated" from their party. Someone who says "I appreciate Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan" is not allowed to be active in politics at any level.

In short, in regards to freedom of thought, "freedom" is a luxury for Turkish-descent politicians. Of course, there are some exceptions. Our respect toward some Turkish-origin members of parliament who are working without losing their "Love for Turkey" but also without expressing their opinions, are great, since their job is rather difficult. Within the EU which advocates freedom of thought around the world, for them to have "freedom of thought" is to suffer the end of their political careers. Sad but true!

Now it seems it is going to be the first time for Turkish-origin voters to have more numbers than before within the parliament that consists of 751 people, with the upcoming European Parliament elections which will be held under these circumstances. The country with the most numbers of candidates who has the highest possibility of being elected is Germany.

İsmail Ertuğ, who is a candidate of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), which loses members of parliament every passing day, is going to be a member of the parliament for the third time; he has acted as a member of parliament for two periods. He is at the 10th row in SPD's list and this is a place that is guaranteed to be elected. Being in the European Parliament for three periods, which means 15 years, is a success for a person of Turkish descent. İsmail Ertuğ is close to the record of Green Member of Parliament Ekin Deligöz who has been in Bundestag in Germany for almost 20 years.

Other than him, Özlem Alev Demirel who is guaranteed to be elected from the Left Party of Germany is ranked in the first row of her party. Murat Yılmaz who is the 10th-row candidate of the same party also has a chance to be elected. Another candidate who has a high chance of being elected is Engin Eroğlu. Engin Eroğlu is at the second rank of the "Freie Waehler" (Free Voters) list. According to public opinion polls, his party is going to receive 2.5 to 3 percent of votes, and in that context, he will also be a member of parliament. In the Netherlands, DENK Party member Ayhan Tunca seems sure to be elected. DENK Party is very successful and assertive in the Netherlands. In France, Agnes Evren seems to have a chance of being elected. Lastly, from Cyprus, AKEL candidate Cypriot Turk Niyazi Kızılyürek seems to be among those who have a chance to be elected. There were three members of parliament that were representing the Turkish minority from Bulgaria in the European Parliament. Let's see how many Turkish descent candidates will be within the European Parliament this time.

In Bulgaria, if again two or four members of parliament are elected, combined with Engin Eroğlu and Ayhan Tunca, the assembly group with the most number of Turkish descent members of parliament is going to be ALDE (liberals). If the candidates from the German Left Party and AKEL candidates are to be elected they will be three people from the GUE/NGL group. We will see.

In any case, the European Parliament is going to have the highest number of members of parliament of Turkish descent so far.

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