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AKP introduces Istanbul candidates to the general public

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 4/14/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The candidates to represent the AKP in the coming June elections come from different backgrounds but all are focused on drafting a new Turkish constitution.

The candidates to represent the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in the coming June elections come from different backgrounds, but all have a common objective: drafting a new Turkish constitution.

“The new elected assembly will undertake a historical duty, to draft a new civil constitution [for Turkey], and I hope that you will be key actors in this historical process,” Aziz Babuşcu, the chairman of AKP’s Istanbul Branch said Thursday in his speech at the introduction of AKP general election candidates for Istanbul.

“A great responsibility is awaiting for us [if elected as MPs]: drafting the new constitution,” Meltem Gürler Göksel, a psychologist and advertiser, who will run for the first time for a general election, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.

“The new constitution will be our primary duty,” said Metin Külünk, a construction engineer and a person close to the AKP, adding that he was delighted with his rank on the election lists.

The profiles of candidates vary from traditional lawyers, economists and diplomats, to retired soldiers, celebrity football players, doctors, engineers and others.

“We watched the speech the prime minister held yesterday at PACE [Parliamentary Assemble of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg] with pride. We want to serve Turkey under the leadership of [such a leader],” Şirin Ünal, a retired major general told journalists, adding that he would give his best to reach the aims of the electoral program to be revealed by the prime minister soon.

Ünal was one of the surprise names of AKP’s election candidate lists due to the strained relations between the Turkish military and the ruling AKP, particularly after the arrests of several high rank military personnel as part of the ongoing Ergenekon coup-plot investigation.

Ahmet Kutalmış Türkeş, the son Arpaslan Türkeş, former leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, is another interesting name in the candidate lists.

Asked why he had chosen to represent the AKP rather than MHP, Türkeş said, “I did not receive any proposal from the MHP.” He also liked his rank on the election list, he said.

Türkeş’s brother, Tuğrul Türkeş, will also be running as a MHP candidate in the coming elections.

“Turkey has experienced a tremendous development and I wanted to be a part of this progress and transformation, too. I love my country and I am part of a party that has gained large support,” Hakan Şükür, an iconic Turkish football player who will also run for the general elections for AKP, told a group of journalists at the event.

Şükür said he was excited for the new duties that await him if he is elected a member of Parliament. “[Becoming a deputy] is a job that demands responsibility, it demands for work and sacrifices.”

The 85 AKP candidates for Istanbul’s three election regions will represent all layers of the population in Istanbul, according to Babuşcu. “The list also includes young people, women and disabled [candidates].”

There are 15 women candidates and three disabled candidates who will run in the elections for the AKP in Istanbul. Moreover, 20 candidates are under the age of 35.

“We have 23 candidates between the ages of 35 and 45 years old, 21 between the ages of 45 and 55 and 21 other candidates older than 55,” Babuşcu said, adding that the candidates also had a high education level.

There are only three high school graduates from the AKP candidates in Istanbul; 50 of the candidates are university graduates, 22 are master’s graduates and 10 of them have doctorates.

“I wish there were more women candidates on the list,” advertiser Gürel told the Daily News, adding that the presence of relatively more women in the Parliament would change the way the job is done.  

“Much of the work with the legislation protecting women rights has been realized, but we will work more on being able to implement this legislation if elected,” Tülay Kaynarca, another female AKP candidate for Istanbul, told the Daily News on Wednesday.

Gürsoy Erol, one of the disabled candidates, said that apart from drafting the new constitution, other priorities for his work, if he gets elected, were working to improve conditions for disabled people and strengthening infrastructure in Istanbul, as well as lowering the risks of a possible large earthquake.

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