Turks to vote in Swedish election in Konya’s Kulu district
KONYA – Demirören News Agency
Thousands of Turks eligible to vote in Sweden’s upcoming elections are expected to cast their votes in the Central Anatolian province of Konya’s Kulu district, which they are visiting temporarily on holiday.
The majority of people of Turkish descent living in Sweden can trace their roots back to Kulu. The honorary consulate of Sweden in the district has set up ballot boxes to make it easy for them to garner their votes while on holiday.
The flow of migrants from Kulu to Sweden started in 1965. There are currently around 50,000 people in Sweden who have migrated from Kulu or have ancestral roots in the district. Some 20,000 of these people are eligible to vote in the Swedish elections scheduled for Sept. 9. The ballot boxes will be set up on Aug. 16 in the district.
Deputy candidates of Turkish descendent are currently running an election campaign in Kulu. Mikail Yüksel, Muharrem Demirok and Sultan Kayhan, who are were nominated as parliamentary candidates, are all from Kulu themselves.
Yüksel migrated to the Swedish city of Gothenburg in 2001 and has risen from working as a dishwasher to running for a seat in the Swedish parliament.
Thirty-six-year-old Yüksel is an active member of Sweden’s Centre Party (Centerpartiet), which is part of the country’s current coalition government.
Having worked as a taxi driver, a welder and in a pizza restaurant in Sweden, Yüksel later went back into education and studied at the Department of Political Science of the University of Gothenburg.
“I became aware that the events happening in Sweden, developments are affecting us [Turkey] directly; this is why I decided we [Turks] need to have an active role in Swedish politics,” Yüksel said.
“We have an honorary consulate in Kulu and the ballot boxes will be set up there. This situation shows the importance given to both democratic rights usage as well as to Kulu itself. The turnout of Turkish voters in elections is around 15 percent, but if Turks go to the ballot box and the turnout increases to 90 percent, the destiny of all of our Turkish citizens, especially those from Kulu, may change,” he said.
The parliamentary candidate has also said Swedish citizens of Turkish origin were more interested in the Turkish elections.
“If the same interest was shown in the Swedish elections, Turks’ rights and lives would change there in a better way,” said Yüksel.
He noted the low university attendance level as well as high unemployment rate among migrants in Sweden and vowed to make an effort to end these problems.
Kulu Mayor Ahmet Yıldız has similarly urged Swedish citizens of Turkish origin to go the polls.
“Our district is a democratic place, it is open to every kind of political initiative. We are very tolerant people. I want my fellow townspeople to go into politics and to be active in bureaucracy as well. We should also be active in industry and commerce areas. I support all of our townspeople in politics. The Swedish state also gives importance to Kulu,” Yıldız said.