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AFP
November 3, 2017

Erdogan ousts mayors

World

AFP
November 3, 2017

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the recent weeks forced from office several of Turkey’s big city mayors, in a purge of local officials designed to shore up support for his ruling party.

In a fast-moving and sometimes ruthless chain of resignations, four top city mayors have stepped down at Erdogan’s request, paying the price for the ruling party’s somewhat lacklustre performance in the April referendum on constitutional change.

Analysts say that after 15 years in power, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan is genuinely worried about its levels of support, ahead of a critical election year in 2019. "The dismissals of the mayors are for different reasons but it’s all with the aim of improving the electoral position of the party," Ilter Turan, a professor of political science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, told AFP.

"The party is in a quandary as to why it is losing votes. The erosion of support was evident in the referendum. First to go was Kadir Topbas, the mayor of Istanbul, a job Erdogan himself used to hold. Next went Recep Altepe, the mayor of Bursa, Turkey’s fourth largest city and a key industrial hub.

After weeks of resistance, the third big mayor to fall on his sword was Melih Gokcek, in charge of Ankara since 1994 and an ineluctable presence on social media with sometimes mind-bending tweets including blaming western powers for earthquakes.

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