Ask Mehmet: Is there anything I should know about the local elections?

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Turkish electorates across the country will vote for their new local administrators, mayors and city councils March 30. Local elections are held once every five years.

Although official election campaigns begin 30 days before the actual election day, all parties have already unofficially started to their campaigns. The High Election Board has announced 26 political parties are eligible to run in the local elections. Independent candidates can run as well.

As part of the campaigns, you will see some streets are decorated with party flags and posters. Very frequently, convoys of vehicles will tour in the streets of every residential area with loud speakers mounted on them. Almost every party chooses a symbol song and plays it all day long in a very high volume while touring the streets. Beginning in March, parties will start to have open-air meetings and rallies. During these gatherings, some main streets are blocked from traffic and, naturally, the traffic of the city is negatively affected.

The four major parties running in the local elections are:

· AKP (Adalet ve kalkinma Partisi-Justice and Development Party), is currently in office. Its symbol is a light bulb. AKP's leader is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

· CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi-Republican People's Party), is the main opposition party. Its symbol is six arrows. CHP's leader is Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

· MHP (Milliyetci Hareket Partisi-Nationalist Movement Party), is one of the opposition parties represented in the parliament. Its symbol is three crescents. MHP's leader is Devlet Bahceli.

· BDP (Baris ve Demokrasi Partisi-Peace and Democracy Party), is another opposition party represented in the party. Its symbol is a big green tree. BDP's leader is Selahattin Demirtas.

The local elections in Adana will be for city council members and five mayors. The electorates in Adana will vote for one metropolitan city mayor and four township mayors. Adana is divided into four townships. The main division is the river running through the city in the north to south direction. Seyhan Township is the southern part of the west side of the river, also known as Old Adana by the base populace. Cukurova Township is the northern part of the west side of the river. There are two townships on eastern side of the river as well. The southern part is called Yuregir and the northern part is called Saricam. Incirlik Air Base falls under Saricam Township.

Governors are not elected in Turkey, but they are appointed for an indefinite time by the government.

As guests of this country, I highly recommend that you do not discuss political issues with local nationals. A word, phrase or sentence you say might be misunderstood and lead to unpleasant incidents. Therefore, keep away from political discussions, and if you see a gathering or rally leave the area immediately.

(Editor's note: For more information on current travel restrictions, stay tuned to the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection channel.)