World Bulletin / News Desk
For the first time, the Turkish community in Bulgaria will be represented by two political parties in the early general elections that will be held on May 12.
In addition to Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which has represented the Turkish minority in Bulgaria for more than 20 years, the People's Party for Freedom and Dignity (FDPP), established in December of last year under the leadership of Kasım Dal and Korman İsmailov, will compete in the general elections.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) İzmir deputy Rıfat Sait, who also heads the Balkans Strategic Research Center, stressed that the establishment of the FDPP does not indicate a division within the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, but instead the FDPP will provide a breath of fresh air in the elections in Bulgaria.
"The Turkish minority in Bulgaria has been represented in the Bulgarian parliament throughout Bulgaria's democratic history. Now the FDPP, which is the second party established by the Turkish minority, will give a breath of fresh air to the Bulgarian political scene and help to increase the number of deputies who will be elected from the lists of ethnic Turkish parties," Sait added.
The Bulgarian Supreme Election Board has announced that close to 7 million registered voters will cast their votes in the general elections. Bulgarian citizens living abroad will be able to cast their votes in 227 polling centers in 56 countries. Since the highest number of expat Bulgarian voters lives in Turkey, 86 pooling centers will be set up in Turkey. Turkish citizens who are also Bulgarian citizens mainly reside in Ankara, İstanbul, Antalya, Eskişehir, Gebze, Kocaeli, Tekirdağ, Kırklareli, Çorlu, İzmir, Manisa, Bursa and Edirne. It is also expected that more than 100,000 Bulgarian citizens who also hold Turkish citizenship will participate in the elections.
Sait said the list of Turkish citizens holding Bulgarian citizenship who will be able to cast a vote in Turkey will be posted at the Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Ministry's website. Sait, a member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission, called on Turkish citizens holding Bulgarian citizenship to visit the website and check to see if their information is correct. "Exercising the right to vote is a democratic obligation. In order to improve bilateral relations between Turkey and Bulgaria, I invite all Turkish citizens who are also Bulgarian citizens to fulfill their democratic responsibility," Sait said.
Bulgaria is one of the Balkan countries where the participation rate in elections is very low. It is expected that the participation rate in the general elections on May 12 will be between 45-48 percent. In Bulgaria, economic hardship is considered the main reason for the low participation rate. Two former prime ministers, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) leader Boyko Borisov and Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev, will run for parliament in the 25th constituency in Sofia. Forty-eight political parties and seven coalitions will take part in the general elections.
Underlining the close relations between Turkey and Bulgaria, Turkish-Bulgarian Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman and AK Party Bursa deputy Mustafa Öztürk said: "I hope the upcoming general elections will make a positive contribution to the settlement of Bulgaria's problems.”
Calling the FDPP's decision to enter the elections a positive development, Öztürk said: "More than 20 years ago Bulgaria decided to adopt a multi-party system, and since then the Turkish minority in Bulgaria has been represented by only one political party. However, that party has neither produced a policy that can meet the needs of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria nor taken steps to improve the official and public relations between Turkey and Bulgaria. I hope the establishment of another party will make a positive contribution in this respect. I was born in Bulgaria and I still have relatives living in Bulgaria. I believe that if a political party that represents the Turkish minority becomes a coalition partner, it will positively contribute to Bulgaria's economic and social development."
Recalling that close to 150,000 Turkish citizens who are also Bulgarian citizens are expected to cast their votes in Turkey, Öztürk hoped that Bulgarian officials will provide the necessary facilities in the elections.Last Mod: 28 Nisan 2013, 17:12