On 31 march the Turks for the sixth time in five years to the ballot box, this time for local elections in which mayors for cities and districts are elected. According to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the ballot, part of the existential struggle of the country against attackers within the country and abroad.
Erdogan has for weeks everywhere in the country campaign for mayors, which two to three speeches a day is no exception. He pulled it so bright of leather that are candidates for time as mayor of Istanbul on behalf of the AKP had to underline that the country is not on the verge of the war to call out, but that there are “only” local elections were about to happen.
Candidate Binali Yildirim, the former prime minister of Turkey and confidant of the president. That also stresses the importance that Erdogan in the elections in Istanbul attaches. “Who Istanbul wins, wins Turkey”, is a well-known saying in the country.
The president himself is an example of this, since he is in 1994, his political career began as mayor of Istanbul, then still as a candidate of the Refah party, the forerunner of the AKP.
That year also won the candidate for that party in the capital Ankara, Melih Gökcek. Both cities have been since that time continuously in the hands of the Rephah, and then the AKP. A loss in Istanbul or Ankara would therefore be a sensitive touch for Erdogan, with the AKP over the past seventeen years never an election lost.
Former prime minister Binali Yildirim should the AKP in Istanbul in the saddle. (Photo: AFP)
‘Elections are unfair’
According to Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert of the American St. Lawrence University and a senior non-resident fellow at the think tank, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), the importance of this election nevertheless overestimated.
“The overall decline of democracy in Turkey makes this election within an authoritarian system in place. This is more from the fact that the opposition hardly any airtime and that politicians of the opposition, threatened and sometimes even be fixed,” he says against NU.nl.
This is Eissenstat also not very hopeful about the chances of the opposition, because the elections what it regards as “not free, and fundamentally unfair”. The power of Erdogan, and thus the AKP, with this vote, in the proceedings according to Eissenstat.
“The only question is whether Erdoğan and the AKP a loss will accept that some sleutelsteden where the opposition does have a chance. A loss here and there would be a humiliation, but one without direct consequences. Moreover, Erdogan has already stated elected officials will be replaced when they allegedly with links to terrorist organizations.”
During a television interview the president said last week that he was against about three hundred individuals afzettingsprocedures want to start. Since 2016 are more than a hundred mayors, mostly of the HDP in the southeast of Turkey, deposed and replaced by the administrators of the government.
The leadership of the HPD by Erdogan accused of ties with terrorist organizations. (Photo: AFP)
Economic downturn is the main topic
This year, the cards are differently shuffled, so is the belief of the opposition, consisting of the secular CHP and the conservative, nationalist, GRATUIT. These parties are united in the “Alliance of the Nation’; in which one party in one city a candidate enacts, while the other party in another city.
The AKP, along with the ultra-nationalist MHP under the name ‘people’s alliance’ the same. The Kurdish-based HDP has no candidates in the major cities, what if implicit support to the Alliance of the Nation is seen.
On the basis of research of the social democratic foundation SODEV shows that for 64,8% of the respondents the economic situation in Turkey, the most important issue is. A similar percentage of the respondents also indicates that they are now worse for the than last year. Turkey is struggling with an inflation rate of about 20 percent and the economy is officially in a recession.
The economic downturn in Turkey on the basis of opinion polls, many people do decide the AKP to turn their back, despite the claim by Erdogan that the recession is the result of attacks of “dark forces” who want to prevent Turkey its rightful place among the most powerful countries in the world is taking.
Erdogan pointing the finger abroad. (Photo: AFP)
‘Fundamental differences between the two political camps’
Still think some of the analysts that the choice is ultimately determined by the ideology and philosophy of life.
“The idea that people are making their decisions on the basis of the positions of the candidates is in Turkey not a good lens to elections to look, since there are fundamental differences between the two political camps in Turkey,” said Selim Koru, an analyst at the Turkish foundation for economic research and policy (TEPAV).
“Every vote is going to in the first place on a choice between these two currents. For that reason, Erdogan is so much to see and is profit necessary. It’s not at all about local government.”
The question is the extent to which the AKP supporters is guided by the economic situation. (Photo: AFP)
Exciting race in large cities
In the capital Ankara is Mansur Yavas on behalf of the opposition to head. In 2014 he was also a throw back to the time as mayor of Ankara, then as a candidate of the MHP. There are several unconfirmed stories about that he had this election lost by fraud of the AKP.
Yavas is also the main candidate to be switched off by Erdogan. “Such a move will be for him, without consequences, so it is certainly not to exclude,” says Koru.
In Istanbul, it seems, despite the difference in media attention to an exciting race to be between Yildirim and the relatively unknown Ekrem Imamoglu, on behalf of the CHP, now the mayor of the district of Beylikdüzü.
Also the industrial city of Bursa, which is usually the best reflection of the political relationships at the national level, it would be in the hands fall of the opposition.
Despite his pessimism, see Eissenstat still bright spots. “The only good thing about this election is that the opposition may allow small islands of relative power to create. After all, the only way for you to prepare for free and fair elections in the future, is due to local elections to continue to do so.”
IYI-candidate Mansur Yavas (middle) hopes the mayor of the capital Ankara.