Turkey election: What the voters say

Residents of Istanbul tell Al Jazeera who they will vote for in today’s local election in Turkey – and why.

The elections are seen as a test for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP government [EPA]

Istanbul, Turkey – The atmosphere has been festival-like across Istanbul, with campaign flags adorning buildings and storefronts, and minibuses belonging to the country’s main political parties driving around the city, playing music and inviting people to vote in the local elections which are set for today.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan mobilised his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) base ahead of election day, hosting large rallies in Istanbul over the past few weeks.

These elections are widely viewed as a test for Erdogan’s government, which is facing corruption allegations, a bitter, public feud with political rival Fethullah Gulen, and mounting controversy over a recent decision to ban Twitter.

Turkey’s main opposition parties – the Republican People Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – are hoping that these government scandals will translate into votes, and are calling for change after 12 years of AKP rule.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is expected to get most of its support in the Kurdish-majority eastern region of Turkey. A new leftist party with strong links to BDP, the Peoples Democratic Party, will also field its first-ever candidates in this election.

Al Jazeera asked Istanbul residents what matters to them in this election, and who they intend to vote for. 

Onur Karabagli, 21, waiter

[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

I’m going to vote for the first time in my life. I’m going to vote for the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] because they are representing the Ottoman Empire’s soul.

They may not be able to resurrect the soul of the glorious days of empire, but they can bring back the culture.

[I’m] trying to get deeper into Ottoman culture. As far as I learned, they were more honest people. MHP has that old-school, Ottoman feeling.

Mukaddes Koroglu, 35, housewife
[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

I’m going to vote for [Erdogan’s] AK Party. I can’t think of any better option than AKP. There isn’t any.

They built hospitals, roads and invested in the eastern region of Turkey, which was ignored before the AKP took over.

We are very pleased with AKP’s assistance on social issues. The country developed a lot under AKP rule… they inaugurated many hospitals and addressed health issues.

There is progress in education. Turkish people are enjoying more income now. You can see even the poorest ones using mobile phones worth $1,000.

Sedat Zorba, 60, mechanic

[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

I have never voted for AKP. My political views are different than AKP. I have voted for CHP for as long as I have known myself.

I’m more than 100 percent sure that those corruption allegations [against Erdogan’s government] are true, no doubt about that.

CHP was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which is a main reason that I can’t give up on supporting them.


Gokhan Alver, 30, hairdresser – Fatma Ozun, 26, freelancer

[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

Gokhan Alver (left): I am going to vote for AK Party.

They [the opposition] are accusing Erdogan of being involved in corruption, but their primary object is to destroy the whole state.

Look everywhere: Everything is far better than before. Why do we need a change then? Everything is going quite fine under the AKP government.

Fatma Ozun: I’ll vote for the Republican People Party [CHP], to see a better future. I’m not entirely satisfied with the incumbent government’s rule. Of course, recent corruption allegations are playing an important role over this dissatisfaction.

If CHP comes to power, we are going to have more comfortable lives. They can offer to lift the minimum wage, and life conditions will get better.

Munip Turkmen, 61, furniture dealer

[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

For me, the AKP is the most reliable political party in Turkey. Erdogan is the most reliable, solid leader in the country right now. That’s why I’m going to vote for them.

They are accusing him of being corrupt, but I don’t take it seriously. This is all part of plot to topple Erdogan… I’m quite confident that he is telling the truth about this issue.

He hasn’t betrayed his country. Corruption allegations are all conspiracy. I’ll back Erdogan until I die.

Fatma Keles, 64, housewife

[Osman Kaytazoglu/Al Jazeera]

I will vote for CHP because Tayyip Erdogan is a thief. He says that latest audio leaks on corruption are fabricated and edited. But he hasn’t proven that they are fake and not genuine.

Actually, I thank him for all the good opportunities he created for this country. But competition and the existence of an opposition [party] are very important.

If there’s isn’t going to be any opposition, who is going to audit the government? I think we should give a chance to CHP.

Source: Al Jazeera