Ethnic Politicians Struggle in Europe; Find Hope in Obama Campaign

Barack Obama is serving as an inspiration for minority politician hopefuls in Europe, who are still struggling to achieve legitimacy and support. Minority politicians are struggling for a voice, even though their families may have immigrated generations ago. For example, in the almost 600 members of parliament in France, only one is a racial minority – there are none in the senate. In Germany, where ethnic Turks comprise about 10 percent of the population, they hold less than one percent of the seats in parliament. In Italy and Spain, minorities have even less of a presence. Minorities in Europe are paying close attention to the elections in the United Sates in part because it will bring an end to the current Bush administration, but also because of the candidates themselves. [Obama] is seen by many as the embodiment of the American dream said Thomas Valasek, an analyst at the Center for European Reform in London. Zohra Bitan, who is running for mayor of the conservative Paris suburb of Thiais, said that she is following the Obama campaign very closely. While she says that France is ready to elect mayors or members of parliament who are a racial minority, she does not believe that the country is ready for an ethnic minority as president.