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UK: Chance of first Turkish-origin MP quadruples

This is the first time this many candidates of Turkish-origin have run for national British elections

30.04.2015
UK: Chance of first Turkish-origin MP quadruples

LONDON

Four British parliamentary candidates of Turkish descent are running in the U.K.'s general election due to be held on May 7.

In separate interviews for the Anadolu Agency, the four candidates said that, if elected, they would work to increase the participation of Turks in British political life.

Two Turkish-origin MPs are running for the center-right Conservative Party, one for the center-left Labour Party and one for the centrist Liberal Democrats Party.

In 2010, just one parliamentary candidate of Turkish descent, Labour candidate Ayfer Orhan, ran in the British general election.

Orhan was unsuccessful. This means that if any of this election's four candidates are elected to Britain's 650-seat lower house of parliament, it will be the first time an MP of Turkish descent will sit in the British legislature.

Gonul Daniels: 'I have experienced the problems they are experiencing'

Gonul Daniels is running for the Conservative Party in London’s Edmonton constituency.

“I have experienced the problems they (Turkish community) are experiencing,” Daniels, who is of Turkish-Cypriot descent, told the AA.

If elected, she would hold monthly meetings with the Turkish-speaking community to “not just make their voice heard in parliament, but also in local authorities.” 

A second-generation immigrant, Daniels has lived in Edmonton since 1998. Unemployment and poverty are biggest problems in her area, she said. 

She claimed unemployment in Edmonton went up to 41 percent under the last Labour Party government.

Over the past five years, under the Conservative-led coalition government, she said unemployment decreased to 33 percent, adding that she still felt more should be done to get people working.

Daniels told the AA that she has been receiving positive responses from constituents during her campaign, and is hopeful for her prospects on election day.

Isabel Sigmac (pictured above): 'I am also a self-made person'

Isabel Sigmac is another candidate of Turkish descent running for the Conservative Party.

Born in 1978 in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey, she is running in Birmingham's Ladywood constituency.

Sigmac told the AA that she came to England in 1989 and has been a member of Hertford town's local council since 2011.

She would "definitely" encourage the Turkish expat community to involve themselves in the political process.

“They live in this country and politicians make decisions which have an impact on their lives. So definitely, I would encourage more people to take part in politics,” she said.  

“I also want to be a role model for people who want to get involved in politics,” she said. “I also started with nothing. I am also a self-made person.”

Like Daniels, Sigmac singled out unemployment as the key issue in her area.

“It is one of the regions with the highest unemployment rates in the U.K.,” she said of her constituency.

On the issue of Islamophobia, she suggested greater “integration into society” and job creation as potential solutions.

Turhan Ozen: 'People should be proud of their own identity'

Turhan Ozen is the Liberal Democrat candidate for the north London constituency of Tottenham.

Born in Elizag, eastern Turkey, Ozen has lived in England since 1998, when he came to study for a master's degree.

“We think that people should be proud of their own identity,” he told the AA. 

He said that the voice of the Turkish community should be heard more in the British parliament, because “the Turkish community in England is very big.” 

“I want to encourage more Turkish-origin youngsters to enter into British politics,” he said, adding that in this way, the Turkish community would be better represented.

"We want to create equal conditions for everyone,” he said.

Ibrahim Mehmet: 'Powerful and local voice'

Ibrahim Mehmet is the Labour candidate for London’s southeast constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup.

He told the AA that together with his family he had immigrated to the U.K. from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1974 after the 1974 Peace Operation.

Turkey staged the Peace Operation in Cyprus in 1974 to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island after a Greek Cypriot coup. 

Since then, the island has remained divided into Greek and Turkish regions.

“There is a small Turkish community in my constituency,” Mehmet said, adding that he has been received well by constituents on the campaign trail.

The support he has received has been in part due to his Turkish origins, but mainly because of the Labour Party's program to deal with problems such as employment and housing.

If elected, Mehmet said that he wants to “be a powerful and local voice of the Turkish speaking community.”

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