POLITICS > AKP redraws Turkey despite opposition ire

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Accusing the ruling AKP of gerrymandering and destroying Turkey’s unity, the opposition slams the government on a new bill to restructure provinces

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A draft law on restructuring municipalities, which will tip the scales in favor of the governing party in local elections, has been adopted in Parliament by votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) despite harsh criticisms from the opposition.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) yesterday asked for an appointment with President Abdullah Gül to convey their misgivings over the bill and called on him to veto it.

According to the bill, which was approved early Monday after a 16-hour session in Parliament, 13 cities with populations exceeding 750,000 people will gain “metropolitan municipality” statuses. This will add to the current 16 metropolitan municipalities. The boundaries of metropolitan municipalities have been extended to the whole province.

Opposition parties criticized the AKP for reshaping the election constituencies to gain advantage in the upcoming local polls.

Mayors of Eskişehir, Antalya and Mersin, who were elected from the CHP in 2009 would be elected from the AKP, when 2011 election results are taken into consideration due to the extended boundaries of the metropolitan municipalities.

Federalism accusation

Manisa and Balıkesir, where mayors were elected from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in 2009 would be governed by the AKP, thanks to extended boundaries. The bill also came under fire from the MHP, who argued that extending the borders of metropolitan municipalities to the whole province would pave the way for federalism, indicating that mayors in those cities would resemble “state governors.” Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, however, played down the criticism and argued that the bill has nothing to do with such accusations.

“MPs from opposition parties accused us of damaging the unitary structure of Turkey and forming a basis for federal structure. They even blamed us for treason. The facts in this bill have nothing to do with the misgivings for federal structure,” Şahin said in a thank-you speech. Under the bill, metropolitan municipalities and district municipalities in metropolitan cities have been obliged to spend 10 percent of their budgets for infrastructure works for the next 10 years.

Metropolitan municipalities and municipalities with populations of at least 100,000 have been obliged to establish “guest houses” for women and kids. The previous legislation used to state that women’s shelters “could be” established in every municipality with a population of 50,000. Establishing the refuges for women has become mandatory, yet under the name of “guest houses.”

Governors and mayors of metropolitan cities gained the right to obtain diplomatic passports.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, CHP deputy chair Gökhan Günaydın said the bill had not been discussed in public before it was submitted to Parliament. “We have asked for an appointment with the president. We would like to convey our views on the draft bill to the president. He should receive the opinions of NGOs, universities and all parts of society. He should ... should send the bill back to Parliament for a second debate.”


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Tekion Particle

11/13/2012 9:38:37 PM

MARA you hit the nail on the head, people should be able to vote for a person they like and believe will best represent their interest. The system is designed to appease the political parties not the voters.

Tekion Particle

11/13/2012 9:35:10 PM

Very sneaky plan. By including the rural areas where most of AKP's manipulated and not well educated voters live they will over turn previous local election results and install their own people as Mayors and Governors in the next elections although the urban voters may not vote any differently but will simply get outnumbered. Brilliant way of cheating for which you cannot be accused of cheating. My hat off to you Mr Erdogan, I have underestimated you.

dogan kemal ileri

11/13/2012 6:44:22 PM

Exactly correct reply @B Medic.I too spend a lot of time in a province soon to become buyuksehir and are really looking forward to the benefits of this reorganisation.And @Faruk Beissir we are categorically not becoming remotely like Iran so why are you perpetuating this Zionist propoganda?

Steve Anderson

11/13/2012 4:37:53 PM

Gerrymandering is one lesson the Turks should give back to the Americans, post haste. It isn't flattering, trying to rig elections in one's favor -- although, quite a common trait in alleged democracies. They seem to have some trouble with the simple word, EQUALITY. Interesting the word POWER is even less understood.

mara mcglothin

11/13/2012 3:46:05 PM

The people should be allowed to directly vote for their representatives, and this whole system should be done away with. No more picking from a list! If Turkey is to become an advanced democracy then this whole system must be abolished. Simple.

tarafsız bir şeyler

11/13/2012 12:07:28 PM

This is the one of the most crucial step towards foundation a strong power in Turkey and of course it may have been seirous damages on Turkey's crippled democratic style. AKP should no longer pass the any law without compromise the opposition partis if they care the Turkey's future sincerely

Aryeh Rapaport

11/13/2012 11:32:24 AM

On one hand Erdogan wants to get things done on the other is it sustainable? As a PM I can see how he wants to accomplish as much as possible & cant convince every citizen in the country. But if Erdogans strategy Is to always manipulate, cheat, accomplish- can he build relationships with opposition parties which are necessary to improve lives of ordinary Turks?

Faruk Beisser

11/13/2012 10:54:59 AM

Another step towards establishing a civil dictatorship on Turkey's way towards becoming a second Iran!

jeffrey Jeffrey

11/13/2012 8:00:17 AM

This blatant gerimandering and should not be allowed. It is proof of the dicatorial tendancies of the current government.
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