Erdoğan warns AKP mayors to remain active ahead of 2019 local elections
Gizem Karakiş/ Erdinç Çelikkan - ANKARA
President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has instructed local organizations to take civilian complaints into consideration in their future actions in order to focus on finding solutions and developing projects “that will win the hearts of the public.”
“The local elections in March 2019 are a critical threshold for the [presidential] elections in November 2019. For this reason, AKP municipalities should not fall behind in the competition for service,” Erdoğan reportedly told party executives during his visits to eastern and northeastern Anatolian towns late in December 2017, according to sources familiar with the content of the meetings.
“All our local organizations and mayors should show the difference between the municipal understanding of the AKP,” Erdoğan also said.
The AKP has recently accelerated its efforts to accomplish a massive restructuring of local organizations in a bid to be better prepared for the local elections scheduled for March 2019. The AKP will finalize this process through a final convention in the coming months.
The mayors of Ankara and Istanbul, as well as mayors of other prominent cities, resigned in 2017 after Erdoğan’s instructions aimed towards consolidating AKP votes in Turkey’s most populous constituencies.
Another instruction Erdoğan gave mayors was to have more coordination with the AKP headquarters, while warning that some “local heads cannot produce solutions, are insensitive to problems and act slowly on developing projects.”
“Do not stay indifferent to complaints. You have to win the hearts of the public by finding solutions to problems,” Erdoğan said.
“Our municipalities, which have great importance for AKP rule, have to develop projects in accordance with the public demand. Do not initiate any project the public does not want. We have to win the hearts of the public by developing more projects in the cities, especially in metropolises like Istanbul and Ankara,” he said.
According to sources, Erdoğan also called on party executives to better explain a controversial decree law that stipulates impunity to civilians who were involved in efforts to thwart the coup attempt in mid-2016. Many oppositional parties and prominent political figures, like former President Abdullah Gül, have criticized the government’s move, which has led to a rare public row between Erdoğan and Gül.