Mayoral changes debate
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.