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German Parliamentary Candidate Urges Voters to Focus on Politics not Immigrant background

September 2013, 20
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Karamba Diaby is bidding to become the first black member of parliament in Germany but has urged voters to ignore his skin colour and immigrant background and instead focus on the policies he intends to deliver.
 
Diaby, aged 52, was born in Senegal and is one of two black candidates standing in the elections for the Bundestag which are due to take place on Sunday.
Dr Karamba DiabySpotlight on Politics
Despite being born in Senegal, Diaby has lived in Germany for more than 27 years but admits to being frustrated by the media attention on his past.
 
Many of the stories being run in the world media have focussed entirely on Diaby's skin colour and immigration background, rather than reporting his politics. But despite the frustration about the possibility of being the first black MP, Diaby recognises that perhaps it is providing the German public with the facts to recognise that no black man or woman has ever held office in the Bundestag before, something which is almost unthinkable in today's modern multicultural society.
 
Diaby told Reuters news agency "If it's so sensational that I am running for the Bundestag (lower house), after living here for 27 years, studying here and being politically active, that's because it has dawned on people that this hasn't happened before.
 

Sunday Elections Drawing Near

Diaby is standing for the centre left main opposition, the Social Democrats in the national elections due to be held at the weekend.
 
Charles Huber is the other black candidate bidding to make history by standing in the same election, representing Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats. Huber is not a first generation immigrant, unlike Diaby, being born in Germany, to a Senegalese father and a German mother.
 
Although Germany has a number of large ethnic communities, few go on to embark on a political career. The lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has around half a dozen members from the largest ethnic group in Germany, Turks, most notably Cem Oezdemir. Out of a total population in Germany of approximately 80 million, three million are Turkish.
 
Other German politicians who have an immigrant background typically came to Germany as young children, rather than as adults like Diaby. The Economy Minister Philipp Roesler was originally born in South Vietnam but was adopted by a German couple as a baby.
Philipp-Rosler-2013

Unusual Choice

In addition to raising eyebrows in his bid to be the first black politician in the Bundestag, Diaby has also attracted attention for his choice of constituency. 
 
Although Germany is a unified nation these days, there remains an invisible divide between the east and the west. Western areas tend to be more affluent and liberal whilst the east can be more conventional, with poverty-struck regions more commonly seen. 
 
Rather than opting to stand in the west, where there is a much larger immigrant community, Diaby has made the unusual choice of standing in the former communist eastern city of Halle, where he attended university many years ago.
 
Visiting allotments to collect soil samples as part of his work for a chemistry PhD in the early 1990s, Diaby began to develop close relationships with local residents from all walks of life and quickly gained an understanding of issues and problems in the area. These links were to spur Diaby on to a career in politics and are the reason why he chose to represent Halle. 
 
Although Halle typically votes in right wing candidates, Diaby is believed to stand a good chance of success, being viewed as a 'local' despite his roots. The SPD is also renowned for being particularly welcoming and supportive to individuals from immigrant backgrounds. 
 
But the world will have to wait until Sunday to see whether Diaby or Huber are successful in getting into Germany's record books.
 

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