In Obama era, Schroeder calls for Turk in German cabinet 

30th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

According to a study released just this week, Turks are the least integrated group of immigrants in German society.

In Obama era, Schroeder calls for Turk in German cabinet

Berlin -- After the runaway success of Barack Obama in American politics, Germany should appoint a minister from the country's large Turkish minority in the name of diversity, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.

Schroeder said Germans should see a "role model" in Obama as the first African-American president.

"After the general election in 2009, it will hopefully be the time (for a minister of Turkish origin) -- and allow me to say, it should be a Social Democrat," Schroeder, a former leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), told monthly magazine Cicero.

The SPD is currently the junior partner in the "grand coalition" government led since 2005 by Schroeder's successor, conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Polls show that Merkel's conservatives are likely to win the general election on September 27 and form a coalition either with their partner of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats or, in a pinch, again with the SPD.

There are about 2.8 million people of Turkish origin living in Germany.

Meanwhile, it seems that Germans "want an Obama too," they told pollsters.

Three-quarters of Germans would welcome "a German Obama," telling pollsters that a politician with the US president's charisma would do Germany good, the magazine Stern said Wednesday.

The poll, by the Forsa company, found 76 percent were impressed by the US president, while 14 percent said they would prefer not to have someone like Obama on the ballot and 10 percent did not know.

The only major foreign speech of Obama's campaign for the presidency was in Germany last June, with hundreds of thousands of people crowded into Berlin's Tiergarten park to get a close-up look at the candidate.

At the same time, the Greens in November became the first major party to elect a Turkish-German as leader, Cem Ozdemir, which prompted members to adopt the tongue-in-cheek slogan "Yes We Cem" based on Obama's motto.

In 1994, Ozdemir became the first politician of Turkish origin to be elected to the German parliament, just two years after taking German citizenship.

A study published this week, however, called Turks the least integrated group of immigrants in German society, with poorer academic achievement and drastically less success in the job market.

Most Turks living here are the descendants of participants in a "guest worker" program in the 1960s that recruited Turkish laborers to do work Germans refused to perform.

Even third- and fourth-generation Turks who had never lived in Turkey were regarded as guests rather than immigrants until Germany passed a reform of its blood-based citizenship laws under Schroeder in 1999.


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