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The Turkish Minority in German Politics: Trends, Diversification of Representation, and Policy Implications

This article looks at the impact of Turkish voters in German politics since the 1980s with a special attention to the latest elections in September 2009. While Turks were almost entirely connected with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s witnessed the rising appeal of the Greens among immigrants in general and Turks in particular. This was followed by the success of Turkish candidates in the Left Party in the 2005 elections. The latest elections in September 2009 witnessed a further diversification of Turkish representation as the SPD, Greens, Left, and the (liberal) FDP each sent a Turkish member into the Bundestag, while the CDU/CSU remained the only party without Turkish representation at the federal level. Despite persistent under-representation in the political arena, and some obstacles against their acquisition of citizenship and religious observance, the Turkish minority in Germany still registers a higher level of political presence than the Muslim minorities in France and Britain.

The Turkish Minority in German Politics Trends Diversification of Representation
Despite being socially conservatives in their attitudes towards many aspects of German society, the Turkish minority is represented by some of the most left-liberal figures in the political spectrum.
 

To what extent does the “Turkish vote” matter in German elections? Can one speak of a unified Turkish vote? Is the Turkish minority adequately represented in proportion to its share in the population? What are the mistakes Turkey made in its policy towards Germany’s Turkish minority? What are the implications of the 2009 elections for German-Turkish relations and Turkey’s pursuit of EU membership? What are the future political prospects of Germany’s Turkish minority?

The historic victory of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1998, and the reign of the SPD-Green coalition government under the leadership of Gerhard Schröder between 1998 and 2005, represented the political constellation most favorable to the interests of the Turkish minority in Germany. This was when the historic citizenship reform of 1999 was passed, allowing for an ever increasing number of second and third generation Turkish immigrants to acquire German citizenship. However, the government’s failure to allow for dual citizenship was a major

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