Bolstered by a strong performance in last month’s European Parliament elections, the Party of Equality, Peace and Friendship (KIEF), which represents the interests of Greece’s Muslim minority in Western Thrace, is looking for electoral alliances that would boost its chances of parliamentary representation after the July 7 vote.
The party topped the EU poll in the municipalities of Rodopi and Xanthi, winning 38.01 percent and 25.05 percent of the vote respectively. Its nationwide percentage stood at 0.71 percent, prompting behind-the-scenes talks on potential alliances that will allow KIEF to beat the 3 percent threshold for entry to Parliament.
Speaking to Kathimerini, party spokesman Ozan Ahmetoglou said talks are ongoing with other minor parties, “but have so far not gotten very far.”
Developments will decide whether mainstream parties such as SYRIZA, New Democracy, Movement for Change and the Communist Party will put minority candidates on their tickets in the region where the minority numbers about 120,000 people.
KIEF is treated with skepticism over alleged close ties to the Turkish Consulate – and by extension Ankara.
Ahmetoglou brushes aside the criticism. “It is dishonest to portray KIEF and the minority as a threat to Greece. We do not accept it. It is insulting to all of us.”
“The KIEF vote [in European elections] was a protest vote over [state] disregard about our problems,” he said.