Germany's diversity shows as immigrants run for parliament

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Ana-Maria Trasnea was 13 when she emigrated from Romania because her single, working mother believed she would have a better future in Germany. "It was hard...
BERLIN (AP) — Ana-Maria Trasnea was 13 when she emigrated from Romania because her single, working mother believed she would have a better future in Germany. Now 27, she is running for a seat in parliament.

"It was hard in Germany in the beginning," Trasnea said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But I was ambitious and realized that this was an opportunity for me, so I decided to do whatever I can to get respect and integrate."

Trasnea, who is running for the center-left Social Democrats in Sunday's election, is one of hundreds of candidates with immigrant roots who are seeking a seat in Germany's lower house of parliament, or Bundestag. While the number in office still doesn't reflect their overall percentage of the population, the country's growing ethnic diversity is increasingly visible in politics.

"A lot has changed in Germany in the last few decades. The population has become much more diverse," says Julius Lagodny, a Cornell University political scientist who has researched migration and political representation in Germany. "Young immigrants are not only striving for political offices across almost all parties in Germany, they are demanding them. There's a whole new sense of assertiveness now."

There are about 21.3 million people with migrant backgrounds in Germany, or about 26% of the population of 83 million.

The current parliament has 8.2%, or 58 of 709 lawmakers with immigrant roots. The 2013-17 parliament had only 5.9%, or 37 out of 631 lawmakers, according to Mediendienst Integration, an organization tracking migrant issues in Germany.

Of the 6,227 candidates running for parliament, 537 have immigrant roots, said Julia Schulte-Cloos, a political scientist from Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University specializing in political behavior and discrimination of minorities in Germany and Europe.

Schulte-Cloos said the share of Bundestag candidates with immigrant roots has risen continuously since 2005.

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Even though the number…
KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
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