Turkey’s AKP woos voters with Russian-origin candidate for Antalya district council
ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency
İrina Balcı (R) and Remzi Sadi have teamed up for the ruling AKP in Antalya's Konyaaltı, which is renowned for its sandy beach, luxury hotels and bustling night life.The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has opted to go beyond its usual candidate profile, nominating a Turkish citizen of Russian origin to stand for election to Antalya’s Konyaaltı district council in the upcoming elections.
İrina Balcı, a 34-year-old mother-of-four, who became a Turkish citizen in 2009, has been chosen to top the candidate list for the district city council membership.
If the AKP’s mayoral candidate, Remzi Sadi, wins in Konyaaltı, Balcı will become the first Turkish citizen of foreign origin to take part in local government.
Balcı said she was proud of her Turkish citizenship and added that it was necessary for the sizable population of Russians living in Antalya to take part in local government. “We want to live in this country. We want to be useful for this country. We have opportunity, power and demands,” she said.
She added that the AKP candidate Sadi recognized the importance of foreign people being part of the local government, and said she wanted to show how different kinds of people can be a part of the AKP.
Balcı, who graduated from the Philology Department of Moscow State University, has been serving as the head of the Russian Art and Culture Association in Antalya.
Sadi said people from many countries lived in the district and Balcı would be able to represent all citizens of foreign origin.
Almost 10,000 Russian people live in Konyaaltı and some of them have become Turkish citizens, while others were granted residence or work permits, Sadi added.
“They pay taxes. They have their own work establishments. They contribute to employment. It is impossible to ignore all this. We believe a municipality that has such a vision will gain stronger power with İrina Balcı,” he said.