AKP’s ‘midnight push’ redraws Ankara district

AKP’s ‘midnight push’ redraws Ankara district

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP’s ‘midnight push’ redraws Ankara district

Showing the districts of capital Ankara on a map during a debate at the Parliament, AKP Ankara deputy Salih Kapusuz defends his party’s move to reshape Yenimahalle district because ‘it was composed of two separate parts.’ DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The municipal boundaries of three districts in capital Ankara have been redrawn in a midnight proposal, a move that reshapes the Yenimahalle district’s election constituency in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

A number of neighborhoods were taken out of the jurisdiction of Ankara’s Yenimahalle Municipality and given to the Çankaya and Etimesgut municipalities, according to a proposal from Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin during debates on the Municipalities Bill in Parliament’s General Assembly late on Wednesday.

The neighborhoods of Çayyolu, Ümit, Yaşamkent and Konutkent - all of which are known as strongholds of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) - have been moved into Çankaya Municipality, while Şehitali, Aşağıyurtçu, Yukarıyurtçu, Ballıkuyumcu and Fevziye have been moved into Etimesgut Municipality.

Harsh criticism

CHP lawmakers have harshly criticized the proposal, accusing the AKP of seeking to reshape district boundaries in order to win local elections in the Yenimahalle municipality, where the CHP gained a slight majority in 2009 local elections. The Yenimahalle mayor was elected from the CHP that year with 40 percent of the votes, beating his rival from the AKP who got 36 percent. The former mayor of Yenimahalle was elected from the AKP in 2004. The mayor of Çankaya was elected from the CHP with an overwhelming majority in 2009, while the mayor of Etimesgut was elected from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). AKP Ankara deputy Salih Kapusuz, speaking during parliamentary debates, said Yenimahalle was composed of two separate parts, which is why they had proposed for those districts to be included in closer districts.

Speaking at a press conference in Parliament yesterday, CHP Ankara lawmaker İzzet Çetin underlined that the boundaries of Yenimahalle had been changed without asking residents and without any debate at the parliamentary commission or the General Assembly. This municipal bill was prepared purely for the AKP to secure more municipalities in local elections, Çetin said.

A similar amendment was previously adopted for Istanbul’s Sarıyer district during commission debates, with a number of neighborhoods where the AKP considers itself to be strong taken out of the jurisdiction of the Şişli Municipality and given to the Sarıyer Municipality.