Looking back at Turkey's local elections

Looking back at Turkey's local elections

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Looking back at Turkeys local elections

One of the most crucial elections in Turkey's history before the foundation of the Republic was the 1908 elections for Chamber of Deputies in the Ottoman Empire

More than 50 million Turks are heading to the ballot box on March 30 to elect the mayors of cities and districts as well as muhtars (headmen) for villages and neighborhoods in the Turkish Republic’s 18th local elections. 

Turks last went to the polls to elect local representatives on March 29, 2009.  

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received the most votes in the 2009 elections with 38.9 percent of the vote, although the figure was down significantly from the total it received two years earlier in general elections. 

However, the AKP managed to win two major cities, Istanbul and Ankara, in 2009, while the country’s third biggest city, İzmir, remained in the hands of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). 

The ruling party had previously increased its initial support of 34.43 percent in the 2002 general elections to 42.2 percent in the 2004 local elections and then to 46.6 percent in the 2007 general elections. 

In the 2009 local elections, the CHP's votes rose to 23.19 percent in the provincial council votes from 20.88 percent in the 2007 general elections and 18.23 percent in the 2004 local elections. 

Support for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) jumped significantly, with the party increasing its votes in provincial councils by 60 percent to 16.13 percent. It also doubled the number of mayoral seats it won in the previous elections. 

The Democratic Society Party (DTP), the forerunner of the pro-Kurdish sister parties Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), won several municipalities, mainly in southeastern provinces. The DTP's candidate in Diyarbakır, Osman Baydemir, won the elections with 65 percent of the vote in 2009. 

The Islamist Felicity Party (SP) doubled its support to 5.17 percent in the 2009 polls. 

Local elections have sometimes provided a harbinger of rising political stars, even if some up-and-coming candidates failed to land a mayoral post. Present CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was not a well-known political figure until the 2009 local elections, when he ran a close race for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, only to fall short against the AKP’s Kadir Topbaş. His campaign, however, ultimately helped propel him to the party's leadership following the resignation of Deniz Baykal.