Representation of “disadvantaged” groups only symbolic in Turkey’s parliament

Representation of “disadvantaged” groups only symbolic in Turkey’s parliament
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The finalization of lists for parliamentary candidates drew attention as the representation of minorities and groups described as "disadvantaged" was severely limited. The social groups in question were only afforded a symbolic spot in the lists.

OGULCAN OZGENC- Political parties submitted their candidate lists to the Supreme Election Council in recent days. After the finalization of the candidates, the issue of representation of various groups on the lists has been on the public agenda. The proportion of minorities and groups described as "disadvantaged" in the candidate lists is quite low.


Disabled individuals are one of the groups with limited representation on the candidate lists for parliament seats after their finalization. In the 27th term of Parliament, three disabled MPs from the AKP, and one each from the CHP and the HDP respectively, were elected. Husret Dinc from Hakkari, Serkan Bayram from Istanbul, and Haci Ahmet Ozdemir from Konya were elected as MPs from the AKP. Musa Piroglu, who was a candidate in Istanbul’s 1st Region 2nd place from the HDP, and Turan Hancerli from Istanbul’s 3rd Region from the CHP also took positions as MPs.

While the AKP has five disabled MP candidates in their lists for the 28th term, the absence of disabled candidates in the opposition parties' lists is noteworthy. Many disabled candidates who applied for candidacy could not find a place on the finalized lists. Some of these names who had been candidate nominees are as follows: Nisa Saribacak, for the Izmir 1st Region from the CHP, Turhan Icli, for the Ankara 1st Region from the CHP, Ibrahim Cavus, for Bursa from the Good Party, and Ilknur Peder, for Izmir from the DEVA Party. Musa Piroglu, who was an Istanbul MP from the HDP in the 27th term, is also not a candidate for MP this term.


Adem Kuyumcu, President of the Obstacle-Free Life Solidarity Association, drew attention to the population directly affected by disabilities, stating, "The government has been saying for years that 12.29% of the population is disabled. Every disabled person has a family. Looking at it from here, at least thirty million people are directly affected by disability, and unfortunately, there will be no disabled MPs in the Parliament this year. The field of disability has become an area for politicians to use to make themselves look good to the rest of society. Every month, the Ministry of Family announces [boasting] that they have given some amount of money as disability allowance. A state does not make an announcement when it fulfills its duty as required by the constitution and the law." According to Kuyumcu, another reason for the limited number of disabled candidate MPs is that previously elected disabled people have not effectively responded to existing problems.

Kuyumcu emphasized that the problems experienced by people with disabilities are increasing, and regarding the consequences of the absence of disabled MPs in the Parliament, he said: "The absence of disabled MPs in Parliament will disrupt the implementation of existing written standards [for disabled individuals]. [Their absence] will mean that this lack of implementation will not be able to be questioned, and there will be no fight on behalf of disabled people to access their rights. Unfortunately, the parties made a mistake. People who wanted to be candidates should have been supported. In addition, those who wanted to be candidates should have been in communication with the community."

Kuyumcu stated that rights once acquired are now being lost and said, "Disability is not above politics. On the contrary, it is at the heart of politics. Laws are made for the equal participation of people with disabilities. Politics make these laws. Bureaucracy and local administrations are necessary for the implementation of such existing laws. This is also done through politics. Those who create the problems are politicians, and those who need to solve them are also politicians. There are a few candidate MPs, but they are not likely to be elected, mathematically speaking."


The Romani people are one of the minority groups that have only a symbolic representation on the lists. Ozcan Purcu, who has been a CHP Izmir MP for three terms, made the following statement about the absence of Romani candidates in the lists before the candidate lists were finalized: "I served as a deputy for three terms, I was not nominated, but there were ten Roma candidates other than me. None of them were nominated either. Unfortunately, there is a serious reaction from the Romani people on this issue." Purcu also said about the AKP's Romani candidate Cemal Bekle's nomination, "He will not be able to be elected either. He is also not in a position to be elected. The voice of Roma people will not be in parliament." While the AKP has four Romani parliamentary candidates in the finalized lists, Elmas Arus, who is a Roma and placed 16th on the CHP 2nd region candidate list, is the only Roma candidate in the main opposition party’s (CHP) list.

Sitem Kara, the President of the Izmir Esittir (“Izmir Equality Association”), evaluated the representation of Romani people in the parliamentary candidate lists for Arti Gercek. Noting that parties have put aside their Romani policies, Kara said, "There is one CHP candidate and four AKP candidates, but they are not in electable districts. AKP candidate Cemal Bekle also seems unlikely to be elected. Similarly, Elmas Arus, who was nominated by the CHP is also not in a place he can strategically win despite having a strong base. When we look at the CHP, we can say that there was a right that had been won, and that right has now been taken away. Of course, this situation has drawn a reaction."

Kara explained the importance of Romani representation in parliament as follows: "Having Romani deputies in parliament is very useful for [their] problems to be conveyed at the highest level. There are multiple Romani communities in eastern Turkey, including the Dom and Abdal. This corresponds to a population of over 7 million. There should be more than one deputy to represent this population. Currently, all political parties have abandoned Romani people."


The representation of Circassians, Yazidis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks (Rum), and LGBTI+ individuals in the finalized candidate lists was also limited. The only Circassian candidate was Metin Kilic, nominated by the Green Left Party from the 2nd district of Bursa in the 2nd position. Azad Baris was nominated by the Green Left Party from Diyarbakir in the 10th position. Despite running as a candidate for the AKP in the 3rd district of Istanbul, Ferman Yaramis, who is Assyrian, did not make it to the finalized lists. The only Assyrian candidate in the lists was George Aslan, nominated by the Green Left Party from the 4th position in Mardin.

As for Armenian and Greek representation in the lists, Garo Paylan was unable to appear on the Green Left Party's list of candidate deputies due to the two-term limit. Sevan Sivacioglu, an Istanbul Armenian and a member of the AKP’s Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK), and Masis Kurkcugil, a member of the TIP, were nominated as deputy candidates. The only Greek candidate in the lists was Foti Benlisoy, a writer and publisher who is also a member of the TIP.

When looking at the candidate lists, it is worth noting that LGBTI+ individuals were only nominated by the TIP. Trans woman activist and actress Esmeray Ozadikti was nominated from the 3rd position in the 2nd district of Istanbul, while trans woman activist Niler Albayrak was nominated from the 11th position in the 3rd district, and Talya Aydin was nominated from the 18th position in the 2nd district.