Eleven Turks enter German Parliament

Eleven Turks enter German Parliament

BERLIN – Hürriyet
Eleven Turks enter German Parliament

Polling station helpers empty a ballot box with ballots sent in by mail in an expo hall in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. AP photo

Eleven lawmakers of Turkish origin have been elected to the German Bundestag, the country’s lower house of Parliament, following the nation’s general elections on Sept. 22 as Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) saw its first Turkish and Muslim candidate elected. 

Cemile Giousouf, one of the 11 elected, not only completed a successful journey into the Parliament, but also achieved a historic milestone as she became the first ever Turkish and Muslim candidate to have emerged from Merkel’s conservatives. 

Giousouf told daily Hürriyet that she heard about the news later on in the night, and had a hard time believing it at first. 

“I thank my party and those who elected me for giving me a chance to make history,” Giousouf said. 
Merkel’s CDU is not known for receiving strong support from the country’s Turkish community, with citizens of Turkish origin mostly steering towards the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). Recent years, however, have seen a trend of increasing Turkish support for the CDU. 

Giousouf’s father in particular was moved by the election of his daughter.

“My Muslim daughter will bring us even closer to our Christian friends,” he said.

Number doubled

The number of lawmakers of Turkish origin doubled from the last elections as it increased from five to 11, with SPD taking the top spot among parties with Turkish candidates. Five lawmakers, Aydan Özoğuz, Cansel Kızıltepe, Gülistan Yüksel, Metin Hakverdi and Mahmut Özdemir, made it to the Parliament on SPD ranks. 

The Green Party brought in three Turkish candidates with the re-election of Co-chairman Cem Özdemir, who stepped back into the benches after an 11-year-hiatus. Five-time elected Ekin Deligöz and Özcan Mutlu also became elected lawmakers of the party. 

Far-left Die Linke also had two Turks among its election winners, with Sevim Dağdelen’s re-election followed by Azize Tank’s first time success. 

The turn-out, however, for the majority of the parties, with the exclusion of the winning CDU, was less than satisfying, according to the candidates. 

All of SPD’s Turkish candidates agreed their party’s expectations were much higher with regard to the cultivated votes, but fell short of reality. 

“We went from door to door to explain ourselves to the voters. Yes, our votes have increased, but not to satisfying levels. I see the amount of votes we received as a failure,” Cansel Kızıltepe said. 

SDP lawmaker Aydan Özoğuz and Mahmut Özdemir also stated that the increase in the votes was present but beneath their expectations, as the party hoped for a much higher percentage. 

Deligöz of the Greens described the end result as “unexpected” for her party, adding, “We appear to have suffered a loss of votes as the Greens. We will evaluate the reason for this. Merkel garnered a respectable amount of votes.”

Ali VARLI, Murat TOSUN, Kemal DOĞAN, Tuncay YILDIRIM, Mehmet TAŞKIRAN and İbrahim ERGÜL contributed this report from Hürriyet's Germany office.