Expectations and realities considering the two general elections

Wed, 7 Jun 2023 8:25 GMT
Does the style of politics adopted by MPs of Turkish origin represent the demands of the minority or not?
Expectations and realities considering the two general elections

In the general elections held in our country on May 21, as expected, no party was able to reach the required number of seats to form a government. In response to this situation, a caretaker government was formed under the leadership of the President of the Court of Audit, Mr. Sarmas. Considering the early elections scheduled for June 25 and the local elections in October, the political barometer in Greece will be highly noticeable this summer.

In the elections on May 21, the Western Thrace Turks, represented by four members of parliament, including Xanthi and Komotini, gained the right to be represented in the Greek parliament. It seems that the fact that four out of the six elected members of parliament are from the minority has caused considerable discomfort to some circles. Let's discuss this result and process from different perspectives.

At first glance, this numerical success in the parliamentary elections created a sense of happiness among the minority. However, it would be incomplete to look at the issue solely from a numerical success perspective. The important point in politics is how the minority members of parliament, who are empowered by the mandate they receive from the voters to represent their rights, understand and utilize this power based on ethical criteria. The German sociologist Max Weber explains the qualities he believes a politician should possess through the ethics of responsibility and belief. From Weber's perspective, what matters more than the numerical success we have achieved is the nature and character of the politics pursued. Does the political style embraced by Turkish-origin MPs have the capacity to represent social demands? How conducive is the political environment to this? I believe this is the crucial point of the matter.

For a while now, the political culture undergoing a mutation within the minority has alienated itself from different value criteria and lost its sense of direction. Of course, there are various reasons for this. It should be noted that the passive attitude of the Turkish minority also plays a role in this. From this perspective, it is worth looking back at the critical processes that shaped minority politics thirty years ago to understand the present.

As it is recalled, the introduction of a radical change in the electoral law, imposing a 3% threshold, created a significant handicap in the manifestation of the political will of the Western Thrace Turks. The only purpose of that monstrous change was to silence the minority's voice. Following that change, priority issues in minority politics were ignored and pushed into the background. Different approaches, adjectives, images, and perceptions entered the political literature, redefining the realities of the minority. In general, the typology of politics in the minority underwent a profound transformation. According to the analyses conducted at that time, the Turkish minority issue needed to be removed from Greece's political agenda in order to avoid drawing the attention of the international community. Indeed, the 3% threshold achieved this to a significant extent.

The reality of national minorities is not unique to Greece. Almost every country has one or more minorities living within its borders. However, unlike Greece, developed democracies ensure the representation of national minorities by implementing positive discrimination and guaranteeing parliamentary seats through their constitutions.In this context, it is important to emphasize that the Turkish minority in Western Thrace has a strong bond with its national identity and a connection with Türkiye. It is essential for the politicians, particularly those representing the minority, to understand this relationship and act accordingly. However, it is disappointing to witness some circles demanding that Türkiye remains silent in the face of various practices that disregard the rights of the Turkish minority and undermine the principles established by international treaties.

Let's make it clear: the Turkish minority has a national identity and a distinct cultural heritage. Therefore, the request made by Ilhan Ahmet, the Member of Parliament from Gümülcine, for Türkiye's Consulate General in Gümülcine to stay away from minority affairs is incomprehensible. The Turkish Consulate General has a legitimate role in protecting and promoting the interests of the Turkish minority, as it does for its citizens residing in any foreign country.

It is crucial to draw a clear line and acknowledge that the Turkish minority in Western Thrace has the right to maintain its national and cultural identity. The demands for equal representation, the preservation of their language, education, and religious freedoms are legitimate and should be respected. Ignoring these rights would not only be a violation of international norms but also a denial of the rich diversity that exists within the borders of Greece.

The Greek government should recognize the Turkish minority as an integral part of its society and take steps to ensure their full participation in political, social, and cultural life. This includes providing adequate representation in the parliament, as well as addressing the pressing issues faced by the minority, such as education, infrastructure, and economic development.

Moreover, it is essential for the politicians representing the Turkish minority to prioritize the interests and well-being of their constituents above personal gains or party affiliations. They should actively engage with the community, listen to their concerns, and work towards finding viable solutions to improve their living conditions. Only through genuine dialogue and collaborative efforts can the Turkish minority in Western Thrace achieve meaningful progress and contribute to the overall development and harmony of Greece.

In conclusion, the recent election results in Greece, particularly the representation of the Turkish minority in the parliament, have brought both hope and challenges. While numerical success is significant, it is equally important to examine the nature and character of the politics pursued by the minority representatives. The focus should be on how they interpret and utilize the authority entrusted to them by the electorate to represent the interests of the minority. Upholding ethical standards and exhibiting a genuine commitment to addressing the concerns of the community should be the guiding principles for politicians in Western Thrace. Ultimately, fostering an inclusive and participatory political environment is crucial for the prosperity and coexistence of all communities in Greece.

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