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Turkey: Parliamentary Elections Give Ethnic Armenians Political Voice

Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party has an ethnic Armenian elected to parliament. (Photo: Garo Paylan Campaign)

The results of Turkey’s June 7 parliamentary elections denied a majority to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. It also diversified parliament’s demographic mix: the election of three ethnic Armenian deputies is being heralded as an important breakthrough for the country and its fraught relations with its Armenian minority.
 
All of Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities have seen their population numbers collapse since the formation of the secular republic in 1923. Despite the events of 1915, when hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians were slaughtered, expelled or forced to flee Ottoman Turkey, the ethnic Armenian minority remains the largest, with an estimated 70,000 members, most of them living in Istanbul.
 
Yet these individuals had no representation in the country’s 550-member legislature – one of the most obvious signs of a glass ceiling for non-Muslim minorities. Now, as parts of Turkish society start to push for a more inclusive Turkey, that ceiling is cracking. As a result, issues that have long been suppressed or otherwise ignored may soon gain a higher profile in Turkish politics.
 

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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.

Turkey: Parliamentary Elections Give Ethnic Armenians Political Voice

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