Time to talk about social democracy
Is it only the fate of geography that the last few hours of a sunny weekend turned into the darkest emptiness? Only a couple of hours before Ankara was attacked for the third time in six months, I was at Turkey’s first Cittaslow Slow City, Seferihisar, in the Aegean province of İzmir.
Hopes were renewed at the Union of Social Democrat Municipalities (SODEM) meeting there. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu participated in the meeting, where a better future in Turkey through social democracy was discussed.
Tunç Soyer, the mayor of Seferihisar and also the SODEM president, said Turkey needs social democracy more now than at any other time. “Because we are at the top in Europe in the income gap between the poor and the rich and fourth place in the world, because there are incredible damages done to the environment and nature and because we are increasingly segregated, there is a need for social democracy more than any other time,” he said.
The segmented Turkey’s “password to a common language should be democracy,” he added.
The CHP has 230 municipalities nationwide and, as Soyer said, a population of 20 million. Among these municipalities, 122 are members of SODEM.
Because some municipalities are too small and some are too large, as in the northwestern city of Eskişehir, they cannot process the decision to be a member of SODEM in their municipal councils.
Besides, you cannot talk about good communication, even among SODEM member CHP municipalities.
This was the reason why Soyer organized the meeting in Seferihisar. SODEM has founded Akademi (Academy) SODEM to facilitate better solidarity among local CHP governments, share experiences, exchange information and generate common solutions. This is an important step for the CHP to be able to be in touch with local populations in the coming term.
It is no wonder Soyer has been the one who pioneered the formation of SODEM and Akademi SODEM, as he is a name who has been able to make his dreams come true.
He was able to make his town, Seferihisar, the first Slow City in Turkey, creating a brand for this small place.
Excavations at the ancient city of Teos, which hosts one of the most important shrines of the Hellenistic era, the Dionysus Shrine, in Seferihisar have accelerated.
Seferihisar today has met the required criteria to be a member of the Slow City movement, which has more than 120 members in 50 countries. You cannot find a fast food restaurant in this city.
On the contrary, there are markets in Seferihisar where jams made out of fruits grown in its own orchards, home-cooked pastries, cookies, noodles, herbs and other local products are sold.
According to the municipality’s calculations, the value of Seferihisar has increased six times since it was declared a Slow City in 2009.
I cannot say anything about other SODEM member municipalities, but I can say that Seferihisar is a city where the principles of social democracy are well practiced.