By Mesut Zeyrek
COLOGNE, Germany (AA) - Germany’s Turkish voters are showing great interest in parliamentary elections and expecting that they will have a greater say in national politics by electing their representatives.
German-Turkish citizens, interviewed by Anadolu Agency in the western city of Cologne, expressed their hope that the new parliament after Sept. 26 elections will have more lawmakers with immigration background.
Dogan Gundogdu, a real estate and businessman in Cologne, has called on German-Turkish voters to cast their vote in the elections, stressing that their vote could be decisive.
“If we want to have an influence on national politics, we must participate in the elections,” he stressed.
“Many candidates with Turkish background are running for parliament from different parties. It is very important to examine their election programs and extend our support to them. In a sense, they will be our voice at the parliament,” he said.
Germany will elect a new parliament on Sept. 26, and the result will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor.
Among the 60.4 million people entitled to vote in Germany, nearly one million of them are ethnic Turks. But turnout has been low among them in the previous elections.
Levent Taskiran, a young community leader, said that the elections provide an opportunity for German-Turkish voters to elect their representatives who can better address their concerns, solve their problems, and make contributions to improve relations with Turkey.
According to Taskiran, who is heading the Turk-Unid union of university students, and academics, said after years of tensions between Germany and Turkey, relations may improve in the new period, which has also been the expectation of the Turkish community.
“In the past years, anti-Turkey sentiments have been dominant in German political parties. Recently, mainly due to the refugee crisis, both the EU and Germany are making efforts to improve relations with Turkey,” he said.
Despite their growing interest in politics, Germany’s Turkish community has been underrepresented in the parliament. Only 14 lawmakers with Turkish background were elected to the 709-seat parliament in 2017.
Germany’s migrant organizations are hopeful that after the elections on Sept. 26 there will be a more diverse parliament, with more lawmakers representing the migrant communities.
Mehmet Baynaz, who owns a restaurant in Cologne’s popular Weidengasse district, said they want to see new faces in the politics.
“New people should be given a chance. They can bring in new ideas, they can contribute to change,” he said, adding that social divisions remain an important problem, and more efforts are needed to enhance interethnic harmony in the country.
Some of the German-Turkish voters, however, have been pessimistic about the results of Sunday’s election for the community.
Suha Ardanic, owner of a gift shop, criticized political parties for remembering migrants only before elections, but not honoring their promises afterwards.
“Almost all parties are putting three to five Turkish and Muslim candidates in their election list, but only for show-off, in order to win our vote. Similarly, they all promise moderate, liberal policies before the elections,” he said.
“But after coming to power, they give no serious position to our representatives, they never have a real say on policies, and they cannot change anything. This is how it goes,” he said.