More than a half-million German-Turkish voters are eligible to go to the polls in federal elections this weekend. They overwhelmingly support the Social Democrats, and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has put Turkish voters at the front of his campaign this week.
. . . . .
Turkish voters slowly wielding power
Schröder also had an impressive list of statistics to point at Turkish businesses are an increasingly important player in the German market. Dogan's conglomerate alone, he noted, has invested €37 million in Germany and all together, Turkish companies have a turnover of €29 billion here. They have created 300,000 jobs in a country where unemployment has become chronic.
But the most telling statistic is the growth in the number of Turkish voters in Germany. Slowly they are emerging as a powerful minority voting bloc. Since 1972, 666,000 of the former "guest workers" who came to help rebuild Germany during the economic miracle that followed World War II have become naturalized citizens. And that number has surged in recent years under a new citizenship law that permits Turks born in Germany to apply for citizenship when they turn 18. By most estimates, more than half-million Turkish-Germans will be eligible to vote in Sunday's election — a crucial voting block in an election in which 30 percent of Germans remain undecided. In its above-the-fold headline on Wednesday, the mass-circulation Bild newspaper asked:
"Will the Turks Determine the Election?"
In editorials, Turkish-language newspapers here have recently been mobilizing Turkish-German voters to go to the polls. And despite its official neutrality, even Hürriyet has helped set the tone, at least indirectly. On Tuesday, the paper's leading story noted that, according to the latest poll data, 77 percent of Turkish voters plan to vote for the Social Democrats, followed by 9.2 percent for the Greens and 7.8 percent for the Left Alliance. A meager 4.8 percent said they would cast votes for the conservative CDU and even fewer, 1.2 percent, for the neo-liberal Free Democratic Party.