Turkey's Mayor's Race for Mayor Erdogan is facing a severe test2019-04-01 11:25:09 76 ℃
On March 31, Mayor elections and other municipal elections in 30 major Turkish cities are under way, which are regarded as barometers of the popularity of Turkish President Erdogan. More than 57 million voters are eligible to participate in the election of mayors of Turkey's major cities, 51 provincial capitals and 922 districts. They vote at 200,000 polling stations across the country, electing local council representatives and tens of thousands of community and rural administrators. Economic prosperity provided conditions for the success of Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party's previous elections. With Turkey's depreciating currency, double-digit inflation and soaring food prices, the conservative Islamic ruling party may lose control of key mayoral positions. The opposition established strategic cooperation and proposed candidates in the coalition to maximize the chances of defeating members of the Justice and Development Party. Ankara, the capital, is a major battlefield. Opinion polls suggest that opposition coalition candidate Mansour Yawass may end the 25-year rule of the Justice and Development Party. Former government environment minister Mehmet Ozhaseki is running for mayor under the banner of Erdogan and his Nationalist allies. Another closely watched mayoral election was held in Istanbul. Erdogan took power as mayor of the city in 1994 and said at the election rally that whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey. Erdogan appointed former Prime Minister Ildirin to compete with opposition candidate Ekrem Imagoglu in the Istanbul mayoral election. On March 30, Erdogan addressed the sixth gathering in Istanbul. Erdogan has been making unremitting efforts for the candidate of the Justice and Development Party, describing Turkey's economic plight as an attack by domestic and foreign enemies, and defining the municipal elections held in Turkey on 31 as a matter of national survival. Gonul Ai, 38, said she voted for the ruling party and Yerdelin in Istanbul because of his experience. "I voted for the Justice and Development Party so that their services can continue," said the housewife. "God bless, this crisis and chaos will be solved, and we will see healthier and happier days." Woken Duzgong, 32, said he voted for the opposition candidate Imam Mogro. "Everyone is either competing with Erdogan or fighting for Erdogan," he said. Duzgong added: "All elections have turned into competition with a one-man regime, and what we call the opposition is trying to open up some breathing space." The ruling party accused Mayor Ankara candidate Yawass of forging documents and tax evasion, and threatened not to accept the election results if the candidate accused of having "terrorist" links with the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (the second largest opposition group in parliament) won in the south-east. Since 2016, the Erdogan government has replaced elected mayors of pro-Kurdish parties in nearly 100 cities, appointed mayors arranged by the government, and accused deposed officials of having links with outlawed Kurdish militants. Pro-Kurdish parties are trying to recapture these positions. However, they strategically missed key mayoral elections in major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in order to provide votes to rival secular opposition parties to help them challenge Erdogan's party. Since the last local election in 2014, Turkish citizens have participated in five different elections. In last year's presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan won 52.6% of the vote, and his party and its nationalist allies won 53.7% of the vote. The municipal elections of 31 were also Erdogan's first test since winning the election last year. Last year's election brought Erdogan a new system and gave him broad powers.
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