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ANKARA: Turkish Votes 'United' In Dutch Elections

Turkish Daily News - Nov 22 2006
Dutch voters flock to the polls today amid a controversy sparked by claims of Ottoman genocide by the Labour Party (PvdA) which have driven ethnic Turkish voters away from the party that has long been their first choice.
The vote was triggered by a June parliamentary decision to dissolve the center-right government of Jan Peter Balkanende. Economic issues are the main and most debated topic of the elections. Balkanende's Christian Democrats (CDA) lead in the polls. The Labour Party, which until recently was seen as the likely winner of the elections, scared away voters, when its leader Wouter Bos kicked off his campaign with a 'promise' of higher taxes for rich pensioners. Whereas, an economic improvement in the economy seems to have increased election hopes for Balkanende. Dutch economy has grown 2.8 percent this year, as a result of the strict economy policies he applied. The other side of the coin:

But the same strict policies "have also caused social economic problems like poverty, due to unequal distrubution of the welfare" said Guido van Leemput, member of parliament from the Socialist Party, to the TDN. Anne de Boer, local councelor of the Green Left Party commented that "While immigration was the main issue in the last election, today parties make economic policies the focus of their platform. In this vein, his party aims "to green the economy," he added.
In the Netherlands, an entirely different political dynamic has put the votes of 140,000 voters of Turkish origin up for grabs, as many are abandoning the two leading parties in favor of the tiny 'Democrats 66', which describes itself as a social liberal party,
> sensitive to minority questions. In July, Chistian Democrats (CDA)
> and the Labour Party (PvdA) removed three ethnic Turkish candidates
> from their party list who refused to accept the Armenian claims of
> genocide of 1915. "We feel like we have been hit in the eye" said
> Veyis Gungor, president of Turkevi Research Center, speaking to the
> TDN. Following the removal of the ethnic Turkish candidates from the
> parties' lists, Turkish associations representing a full spectrum of
> politics have convened in order to create strength in ballot numbers.
> 'Strategic votes' to D-66:
> After a series of discussions, ethnic Turkish voters have decided
> to use their votes strategically in order "to show our power," said
> Veyis Gungor. Of the 140,000 Dutch voters of Turkish descent 60,000
> of them voted in the last elections. In these elections, Turkish
> associations are campaining for the 'Democrats 66', who has an ethnic
> Turkish woman candidate at the second place in its election list,
> Fatma Koşarkaya.
> Sabri Kenan Bagci, chairman of the IOT organization that speaks for
> Turkish interests, expects that 100.000 ethnic Turkish will vote for
> Fatma Koşarkaya who refuses "Armenian genocide" which is a very
> sensitive issue according to Ilhan Karacay, Editor-in-Chief of the
> Dutch-Turkish newspaper, Dunya.
> Labour Party (PvdA) is in the center of the ethnic Turkish voters
> reaction, as the majority of ethnic Turkish voters has voted for it
> in the last elections. Labour Party, after July, has changed slightly
> its tendency vis-a-vis the Armenian genocide in order not to lose its
> votes from the minorities. Nezahat Albayrak, member of parliament
> of Labour Party, has organised meetings with the Turkish minority
> and declared that the genocide issue must be left to historians and
> jurists. Leading scenarios:
> According to the last polls, 40 percent of the voters are undecided,
> thus it is difficult to estimate a future government.
> There are two leading scenarios: Christian Democrats (CDA), estimated
> to have 45 seats according to the poll of Political Barometer on November 19, can form a coalition in which the Christian Union
- estimated to have 5 seats
- is included. Labour Party is another > possible coalition partner. Such a development will not affect
minorities in the country, who are, according to Gungor, facing restrictions to their rights during the present government.
If the Christian Union, known to be warm to Armenian claims, EU-Turkish relations might be affected negatively.
The second scenario is an all-left majority coalition in which Labour Party (PvdA), Socialist Party (SP) and Green Left (GL) take part. Because of clear support of GL and SP to Turkey's EU membership and the neutral attitude of SP, this coalition might influence Turkey's path to full membership positively.

Copyright 2006, Turkish Daily News. This article is redistributed with permission for personal use of Groong readers. No part of this article may be reproduced,further distributed or archived without the prior permission of the publisher. Contact Turkish Daily News Online at ttp:// for details.


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