Founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Fatma Bostan Ünsal submitted her application for candidacy for the June 12 election, saying that it was her duty to apply, to represent women wearing headscarves in Turkey.
Submitting her application at party headquarters a few days ago, Ünsal says that although she had not received assurances from her party, she was nonetheless going to apply. “I chose the AK Party because I am one of its founding members. Other options were naturally ruled out,” she said.
Ünsal had first declared her intention to run as a veiled female candidate when speaking last October at an AK Party meeting held in the Kızılcahamam district of Ankara. Ünsal stated that her application was based on the words of Serap Yazıcı, an expert on constitutional law, who called on political parties to nominate a candidate wearing the headscarf. Yazıcı had declared that there was nothing in the constitution or in legislation that could constitute an impediment to their nomination.
“KADER [The Association for Supporting Women Candidates in Politics], also made a call for the increased representation of women, including those wearing the headscarf,” Ünsal said. Ünsal believes that the 60 percent of Turkish women who wear headscarves but cannot enter politics also need to be represented. She says that she subsequently wanted to give the AK Party the opportunity to put forward a candidate wearing the headscarf. Beginning her political career as one of the 65 founding members of the AK Party on Aug. 14, 2001, political scientist Ünsal could not run as a parliamentary candidate due to her headscarf. While her husband entered Parliament, she could not even apply, despite her membership in the party’s Central Decision and Administration Board (MKYK), among her other posts.
Her party meeting declaration attracted mixed responses from the AK Party. She thus voiced her intention to run as an independent candidate in the event the party does not add her name to the candidate list. Ünsal submitted her nomination to run as an AK Party candidate in Ankara and Adıyaman, her husband’s hometown.