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Erdogan Purges the mayor of Ankara to regain control of the big cities

The capital, the fifth largest city in which the alderman was ousted, opposed the referendum in April

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Erdogan Purges the mayor of Ankara to regain control of the big cities

He is fifth mayor to leave office after holding an extraordinary meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Melih Gokçek, municipal head of capital of Turkey, Ankara (5.2 million inhabitants), officially presented his resignation on Saturday afternoon during city council. "I'm not leaving because I failed," said Gokçek in his farewell speech, "I'm leaving because Erdogan has asked me (...)" "And because I think he's only leader in this country." The AKP's politician (Justice and Development Party) leaves more than 23 years in front of country's main city council after winning five consecutive elections.

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The succession of destitutions began at end of September when mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas presented his resignation after several disagreements with AKP on a municipal project. "I will remain a member of party and participate in different events," he said in a gesture of fidelity to group. He was followed by leaders of or towns such as Duzce, in north-west of Anatolia; Nigde, in central region; Or BURSA, Turkey's fourth largest city.

The relay maneuver corresponds to AKP's strategy to regenerate party but also to pave way to key electoral appointment: The municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections of 2019 in which executive will introduce system Presidentialist approved in referendum in April. "In elections of 2019 we intend to get 50% plus 1 of votes, not only in presidential and parliamentary, but also in municipal ones. This is goal, "recalled Erdogan." "Our friends should not feel uncomfortable (...)" [The destitutions] correspond to a turn to reinforce our movement, he insisted.

The results of April constitutional referendum demonstrated loss of government support in major cities. Ankara opposed reform with 51.15% of vote; Istanbul, with 51.35%; And Smyrna, with 68.80%. Thus, AKP seeks to regain control of large cities before March 2019 municipal elections. "If y lose three major cities, y will lose subsequent elections (Parliamentary and presidential)," maintains professor of comparative policy at University of Koç, Ali Çarkoglu, "( referendum) was a warning." And y can't wait to change policies to satisfy voters. "There's no time."

According to internal surveys, Erdogan's party has lost popularity in recent months. The economic inequality between population, political instability after failed coup, or insecurity product of terrorist attacks have passed bill to executive. The AKP is currently backed by 38% to 41% of electorate, according to journalist Ahmet Takan after accessing polls. "Erdogan knows he's not as popular as before," continues Çarkoglu, "and wants to make sure that participation [in 2019]] is low." "It needs citizenship to be satisfied and not to worry about future." Mayors ' changes seek that effect of "appearing to meet demands of citizenship."

"In my opinion it is a very risky strategy because it is a symptom of weakness in municipal sphere," analyses Çarkoglu, who believes that it is a facelift and not a real reform. According to him, it is too late for new mayors to change local dynamic to capture new voters. Over successors, Erdogan has put focus on youth. "Our young people will take care of important work of this nation," he said. Undoubtedly, allocation of posts to beginner politicians will favor control of AKP's Central Command over administration.

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