Opposition preparing for local election campaign

Opposition preparing for local election campaign

Opposition preparing for local election campaign

Kılıçdaroğlu (L) attends a meeting of municipalities led by his party. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has marked an early start to getting prepared for its local election campaigns as mayors from CHP–led metropolitan, provincial and town municipalities from all around Turkey gathered Feb. 7 in Ankara for a two-day meeting.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, which was focused on preparedness for local elections that will be held at the end of March 2014, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu maintained his criticism of police raids and probes into CHP-led municipalities and accused the government of pressuring opposition municipalities. 

“We are seeking the best method for how we can conduct our local election campaign. On the other side, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing for the local elections with systematic pressure on CHP-led municipalities,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Recently police raided the CHP-led Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality as part of an investigation into a “city development tender” and five people working at the municipality were arrested on Feb. 1. On Jan. 20, Antalya Mayor Mustafa Akaydın, also a CHP member, testified to the prosecutor in a probe to be launched over transport system payments in the city.

Kılıçdaroğlu said they were not against legal investigations and administrative inspections of any municipalities if there’s a valid reason. “However, probes into CHP-led municipalities have turned into a defamation campaign. They aim to discredit our mayors and municipalities.”

“A mayor who is elected with the votes of the people should leave the post only with another election; this is the fundamental rule of democracy. But [the government] pressures and demoralizes opposition-led municipalities. This is disrespectful of the people’s will,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

French company

During the meeting, the party’s local administration strategy and party campaigns at different levels were reviewed.

Two executives from the Paris-based global advertising and communications agency Havas – reported to have worked on the election campaign of French President François Hollande – gave presentations and lectured mayors about election tactics.

Mayors were reportedly informed about election campaign programs, the working system of the leader and team, relations with the press and election tricks.

The CHP first contacted Havas executives on Jan. 23 when CHP deputy chair Gökhan Günaydın and some CHP-member mayors paid a working visit to the French capital. The CHP delegation met with executives and mayors from the French Socialist Party and discussed public opinion polls and local election campaigns.

The CHP may work with Havas for its local election campaigns if they are satisfied with the presentation.