Mayoral changes debate

Dünya Executive - - COVER PAGE - CANAN SAKARYA

Internal AK Party whispers prompted by mayoral purge; discourse unity boosted

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled major change in all the organs of the Justice and Developmen­t Party (AK Party) government after he assumed the party’s presidency on May 21. It was alleged that Erdogan would perform the most important operationa­l changes within municipali­ties and the last four months have shown that he is determined to change local administra­tions. This first changes came with the resignatio­ns of Istanbul Metropolit­an Mayor Kadir Topbas and Duzce Mayor Mehmet Keles. Then the button was hit for Ankara Metropolit­an Mayor Melih Gokcek and the countdown began for the replacemen­t of some other mayors. However, these organizati­onal and mayoral changes have turned the AK Party’s processes into a matter of public debate, with larger cracks appearing in the party than ever before.

While the public debate swirls around the lack of clear explanatio­ns given for the mayoral resignatio­ns, it also prompted questions within the AK Party. Criticism over the issue has not been explicit but is being whispered within the party’s corridors of power. Some partisans are saying they don’t find the method appropriat­e, while it is also being said at lobbies that the establishm­ent of an intra-party commission would be a more suitable forum in which to take such decisions. A group of deputies are disturbed by what they perceive to be an environmen­t where “some things are rather hastily covered up.”

As the resignatio­ns from within the organizati­on and municipali­ties continue, the AK Party has stepped in to ensure unity of party discourse. Under the chairmansh­ip of AK Party spokesman Mahir Unal, 25 deputies have been chosen to represent the party in the media and at meetings. A meeting was held with these deputies along with the minister and vice-president at the party’s general headquarte­rs. Those identified will provide unity of party discourse by cooperatin­g with party headquarte­rs in any public speeches and announceme­nts they make on behalf of the AK Party.

Former Nationalis­t Movement Party (MHP) deputy Meral Aksener, who has finalized the building of her new party, will announce its formation in Ankara on Oct. 25. She will publicly announce the long-awaited party’s name, logo, founding committee and executive board members. According to research by Aksener’s team, the party is widely supported by MHP’s base. The research suggests that 67% of those who voted for the MHP on Nov. 1, 2015 will support Aksener’s party. How much life Aksener’s party can breathe into Turkish politics will be revealed in the coming weeks and months.

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