President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) local mayors to pull out all the stops for triple elections in 2019, stressing that they should mainly target the presidential and parliamentary polls due in November 2019.
“In the 2019 elections, we aim to get 50 percent plus one vote not just for the presidential and parliamentary elections but also for the local elections. That is the goal,” Erdoğan told a meeting of AKP mayors in Ankara on Sept. 13.
Turkey is set to hold three elections in 2019. The first will be the local election scheduled to be held in March 2019, while the presidential and parliamentary election will be held later in the year in November.
As the shift to an executive presidential system, stipulated by the constitutional amendment narrowly approved in a referendum in April, will go into effect after the 2019 election, Erdoğan underlined that the “real goal is the presidential election.”
“Our success in municipalities is one of the most prominent conditions of our ability to receive our desired outcome in the presidential executive system, which will go into effect in 2019,” he said.
“March 2019 is absolutely essential. That’s why current mayors and our candidates for 2019 should set their goals not only to March but also to November 2019,” he added.
Saying that 884 of Turkey’s 1,397 mayoralties are currently under AKP rule, Erdoğan stressed the importance of local governance in the executive strength of the ruling party.
As the party organization is prepared for series of congresses in the coming months, Erdoğan once again stressed the importance of reorganization within the AKP.
“Our country and the world are changing so fast that we are forced to realize this change, renewal and rejuvenation in a more rooted manner,” he said.
“We cannot confine ourselves to the current situation if we want to exceed 50 percent in the 2019 elections,” he added.
“We have to conduct our works in a manner that it will not leave room for even the slightest speculation about our municipalities. This meeting should be a milestone to wipe out all the rumors,” Erdoğan stated.
Prime Minister warns mayors over green spaces
Meanwhile, also speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım criticized local governments over zoning practices, warning AKP mayors to “protect public spaces such as social, cultural and green areas.”
“We should not destroy common spaces and green, breathing points of the city for the appetite of some people who just want to earn more,” Yıldırım said at the Sept. 13 gathering.
“Zoning [for construction] should not be the most recent activity in municipalities,” he added.