All par­ties, ex­cept CHP, mull fol­low­ing AK Party’s foot­steps in greener elec­tion cam­paign

Tur­key is get­ting ready for an en­vi­ron­ment friendly elec­tion process, as all par­ties are ea­ger adopt greener cam­paign meth­ods, as pro­posed by the AK Party

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - ŞEYMA NAZLI GÜRBÜZ - ISTANBUL

POLITICAL par­ties in Tur­key are sup­port­ing the rul­ing Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party’s (AK Party) de­ci­sion to carry out a greener elec­tion cam­paign process for the up­com­ing lo­cal elec­tions and they are ready to take sim­i­lar steps to pre­vent pol­lu­tion caused from tra­di­tional cam­paign­ing meth­ods. Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan, who is the chair­man of the AK Party, an­nounced on Thurs­day that for the March 2019 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions the tra­di­tional meth­ods of cam­paign­ing will be elim­i­nated and in­stead be more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly through the uti­liza­tion of so­cial me­dia chan­nels.

“WE ARE com­pletely leav­ing cam­paign meth­ods that cause vis­ual and noise pol­lu­tion. We have de­cided to fol­low a cam­paign re­spect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and peo­ple,” Er­doğan said, call­ing on other political par­ties to give up old cam­paign­ing tools harm­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and adopt new meth­ods.

Other political par­ties, mainly the Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment Party (MHP) and the Good Party (İP), seem to also be ea­ger in fol­low­ing AK Party’s steps on the mat­ter as they ex­pressed their own views on the is­sue un­der­lin­ing that the par­ties will take their own mea­sures too.

Sadir Dur­maz, the vice chair­man of the MHP, said that they sup­port the pres­i­dent’s call for a greener cam­paign pe­riod.

“We are against the vis­ual and noise pol­lu­tion that emerge dur­ing the elec­tion [cam­paigns] as well. We do not find the ac­tiv­i­ties that dis­turb our peo­ple right,” Dur­maz said.

“Dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod, you see some streets where flags are on top of each other; they be­came un­liv­able due to noise also. We think that in such cam­paigns, we should not dis­turb our cit­i­zens in no way or terms,” he added.

As part of tra­di­tional cam­paign­ing meth­ods, par­ties would fill the streets with col­or­ful flags, posters of the can­di­dates with elec­tion buses con­stantly play cam­paign songs. De­spite cre­at­ing a unique elec­tion at­mos­phere in the coun­try, these meth­ods are con­sid­ered as a nui­sance by many. The flags and posters cre­ate vis­ual pol­lu­tion dur­ing and af­ter the elec­tions. They are far from hav­ing any aes­thetic value as they hang be­tween the build­ings and more im­por­tantly fall onto the streets, caus­ing pol­lu­tion. Mini­vans that play cam­paign songs end up cre­at­ing noise pol­lu­tion when dif­fer­ent cam­paign songs start merg­ing with the oth­ers play­ing in close prox­im­ity.

“This ap­proach would also ben­e­fit the na­tional econ­omy. The waste that emerges dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paigns would be pre­vented and se­ri­ous sav­ings would be achieved,” Dur­maz fur­ther high­lighted.

“We have not had a talk on the mat­ter yet,” said Ci­han Paşacı, the İP’s spokesper­son.

“Some steps can be taken by our party as well to leave these [tra­di­tional] meth­ods be- hind. How­ever, since in lo­cal elec­tions the can­di­dates are fund­ing their own cam­paign­ing process, the party ad­min­is­tra­tion can­not in­ter­vene in that,” Paşacı added.

“Un­for­tu­nately there are many dis­tur­bances dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign­ing pe­riod,” Paşacı ac­knowl­edged.

Er­doğan un­der­lined that in or­der to pre­vent vis­ual pol­lu­tion, the party will only be al­lowed to dis­play flags in the re­gions of party or­ga­ni­za­tions and elec­tion co­or­di­na­tion cen­ters. The AK Party elec­tion buses will not be tour­ing ex­cept at spe­cific times set be­fore­hand. Er­doğan also un­der­scored that so­cial me­dia and other medi­ums will take the place of tra­di­tional cam­paign meth­ods.

Cur­rently, 4 bil­lion peo­ple use the in­ter­net glob­ally and 3 bil­lion of them are so­cial me­dia users. In Tur­key, the num­bers are also high; there are 54.5 mil­lion in­ter­net users and 51 mil­lion so­cial me­dia users. Er­doğan him­self is an ac­tive user of so­cial me­dia as he has over 13 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter.

“We want and sup­port the us­age of so­cial me­dia more. We also ask our can­di­dates to put more em­pha­sis on these chan­nels,” Dur­maz said, im­ply­ing that the MHP will also uti­lize so­cial me­dia more than ever dur­ing these elec­tions.

When it comes to the main op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party (CHP), how­ever, the party of­fi­cials had trou­bled find­ing a party au­thor­ity to speak on the is­sue, di­rect­ing from one to the other, which even­tu­ally left Daily Sabah with unan­swered ques­tions on the mat­ter.

The first en­vi­ron­men­tal law in Tur­key was in­tro­duced in 1983. Af­ter the pass­ing of the law, in 1991, the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry, which later be­came the En­vi­ron­ment and Ur­ban Plan­ning Min­istry, was founded.

In time, there have been some changes within the en­vi­ron­ment law, the big­gest of which came in 2006. In 2006, the terms “sus- tain­able en­vi­ron­ment” and “sus­tain­able devel­op­ment” were added to the law. Some heavy sanc­tions were also im­posed upon in­sti­tu­tions caus­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion.

The par­ties are also in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in their party pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties. Since it came to power in 2002, the AK Party has been known for its green poli­cies aim­ing at in­creas­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the AK Party that ex­plains the ac­tiv­i­ties and per­for­mance of the gov­ern­ment in the past decade, be­tween 1992 and 2002, the gov­ern­ment over­saw af­foresta­tion work in some 743,000-hectares of land. This num­ber has in­creased six-fold be­tween 2003 and 2017. Dur­ing the last decade of the AK Party-led gov­ern­ment, a 4.9-mil­lion-hectare area was used for foresta­tion. The same re­port re­vealed that some 1.5 mil­lion hectares of new forests were also cre­ated in Tur­key.

Since 1993, the CHP has had three sep­a­rate party pro­grams. In each of these pro­grams en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues have been ad­dressed. The lat­est party pro­gram from 2008, also in­clude the en­vi­ron­ment un­der the “So­cial wel­fare state” chap­ter. It has nine pages and four sub­chap­ters: “Sen­si­tiv­ity to the en­vi­ron­ment,” “poli­cies to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment,” “global warm­ing,” and “the fight against pol­lu­tion.” It is stated that sen­si­tiv­ity to the en­vi­ron­ment is one of the pri­or­i­ties of the party and the “CHP is a party sen­si­tive to­ward a green en­vi­ron­ment, na­ture and global warm­ing.”

In the MHP’s party pro­gram, one and a half pages are on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues un­der its own chap­ter. It is stated in the chap­ter that one of the main aims of the party is to bring en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions to a liv­able level by con­stantly im­prov­ing them.

When it comes to İP’s party pro­gram, en­vi­ron­ment is in­cluded un­der the chap­ter “Nat­u­ral life and Ur­ban­ism,” and has a space that is a lit­tle more than a page. In the chap­ter, it is said that the right to have a healthy and bal­anced en­vi­ron­ment con­sti­tutes the ba­sis of the party’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy.

Peo­ple walk un­der Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party (AK Party) flags, Istanbul, June 20.

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