World, Europe

German parliament’s Turkish VP calls on immigrants to get involved in politics

Aydan Ozoguz hopes her election will help strengthen immigrant participation, diversity in democratic politics

Ayhan Simsek and Cuneyt Karadag   | 27.10.2021
German parliament’s Turkish VP calls on immigrants to get involved in politics

BERLIN

The German parliament’s new vice president has called on the country’s young immigrants to get involved in politics to make their voices heard and shape their future.

German-Turkish politician Aydan Ozoguz said her election as the vice president of Bundestag shows that politicians with immigration backgrounds can also become successful in politics and reach top positions in the country.

“In the past, many immigrants felt like they were treated unfairly. Many of them thought they can never hold important positions, just because they were from immigrant families,” she told Anadolu Agency after the vote in parliament on Tuesday.

Ozoguz said many young talented immigrants did not take part in political life due to their mistrust, but stressed it was wrong.

“I have been telling young people that if they step up, if they work towards their goals, they will be successful in getting the positions they deserve. I believe that with this election result, we were able to show this again,” she said.

The 54-year-old politician has become the first ethnic Turkish politician to hold such a key position in national politics.

Ozoguz said she is proud of being elected to such an important position, and expressed hope that this will further help strengthen immigrant participation, and diversity in democratic politics.

The Social Democrat politician successfully garnered support from across the political spectrum in the Bundestag, and her candidacy was also backed by the environmentalist Greens, the pro-business Free Democrats, and the conservative Christian Democrats.

However, the lawmakers of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) opposed her.

Ozoguz said she is aware of the AfD’s stance against her, but expressed hope that they will change their attitude in the coming days.

“It is clear that AfD lawmakers did not vote for me. But after the elections, the AfD’s parliamentary group chief Bernd Baumann congratulated me for being elected,” she said.

Ozoguz has been a federal lawmaker since 2009, and is widely seen as one of the most experienced politicians in her party.

In 2013, she became the first Turkish and Muslim politician serving as a minister in a federal government. Until 2018, she was the state minister for immigration, refugees, and integration.

Germany’s 3 million-strong Turkish community is one of the largest ethnic groups in the country, but has long been underrepresented in political life and in the Bundestag.

In the country’s national elections last month, 18 politicians with Turkish roots were elected to the 735-seat Bundestag, raising hopes for enhancing immigrant democratic participation in Germany.

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