March 17, 2011, Thursday/ 17:47:00/ TUĞBA KAPLAN
A record number of 267 people with disabilities have applied to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to be able to run in the June general elections under the party.
The deadline for applications for candidacy passed on Sunday. The AK Party received the highest number of applications, which include many disabled people so far. Although other candidate hopefuls were asked to pay an application fee of TL 3,000, it was waived for disabled applicant upon a special order from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
There is currently only one disabled deputy in Parliament, Lokman Ayva. Ayva is an AK Party deputy and is blind. He said he was very happy with the number of disabled candidate hopefuls, terming the rise in the number of application from the disabled a sign of democracy. Ayva said the argument suggesting that “a disabled person cannot participate in politics” is totally wrong, and added: “We want the active participation of people with disabilities in politics as a source of richness and difference. Disabled people should be given the necessary support so that they can contribute to the administration of the country.”
This year, general nominations for Parliament have shown a significant increase from the 3,904 applications prior to the 2007 elections.