ANTALYA -Probably the biggest surprise of the elections emerged from Antalya, as former Akdeniz University rector Mustafa Akaydın outlasted the incumbent mayor Menderes Türel in a way even shocking the Prime Minister. Akaydın’s victory was like the last round of his clash with the ruling Justice and Development Party after his stance on the headscarf ban and the debates in rectoral elections
As rector of Akdeniz University, Professor Mustafa Akaydın took a tough stance on the headscarf ban, when he ran for a second term, he won most of the votes of the university’s academics but was passed over by President Abdullah Gül in favor of the rector candidate who came second.
Akaydın, running as the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, candidate for the mayor of Antalya scored a huge victory over the incumbent from the AKP, Menderes Türel, in Sunday’s local elections, beating him by 5 percent of the votes, 41 to 36.
Another noteworthy result for the southern city was the substantial increase of CHP votes in the Konyaaltı and Muratpaşa districts. Muhittin Böcek, Konyaaltı mayor received 61 percent of the votes while Süleyman Evcilmen, Muratpaşa mayor, increased his votes to 57 percent. Both Böcek and Evcilmen have been elected for second terms.
While deathly silence has prevailed in the central AKP bureau and Menderes Türel has not made any public appearances, Mustafa Akaydın held a press conference at the central CHP bureau yesterday.
Beginning his speech by thanking Deniz Baykal, leader of the CHP, women and junior branches of the party, local organizations, his wife, the press and all the Antalya residents, Akaydın said as he first stepped into politics, he wanted to draw a veil over all the disagreement and controversy with Türel and to act professionally as politics require.
Akaydın said he aimed for around 45 percent of the votes before the elections, so the election results were no surprise to him. "I got a little less than I estimated; however, we have mostly achieved the target. This is politics, and it is always necessary to be assertive to some point," he said.
’Prime minister has difficulty controlling his anger’
When reminded of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that he was surprised and disappointed by the results in Antalya, Akaydın responded with a big smile. "I have surprised the prime minister many times before, but he has never surprised me by what he says," said Akaydın.
"I hope PM Erdoğan, who is two years younger than me, will mature in time and learn not to make these kinds of unfortunate statements," Akaydın said.
Saying that the prime minister of the Turkish Republic should take up the position of Prime Ministry independent of any party and political opinion, Akaydın said that the joy of Antalya and the Antalya people should have been the joy of Erdoğan, too.
"Erdoğan, who is also the prime minister of me, my party and Antalya, has serious problems with controlling his anger," Akaydın said.
"These election results are a very true indicator that the AKP administration has lost the battle in the coastal cities. Actually it is not difficult to see that this is a general trend across the country when we look at the substantial decrease in the general votes of the AKP. This has nothing to do with the personality of Menderes Türel or his administration," said Ali Kavuncuoğlu, a 42-year-old doctor.
The position the AKP administration has shown regarding economic crisis management seem to have greatly affected the political opinions of Antalya residents.
"Although Menderes Türel got some negative reactions with his Doğu Garajı and Tramway projects, especially from the local craftsmen, whose income decreased as a result of the construction works along the lines, many people said that they were happy with his administration, and would vote for him again until a short while ago," said H.B., a 35-year-old local craftsman, who did not want to be named. "What changed people’s opinion were the wrongdoings of the AKP administration before the economic crisis. Then we began to think that we did wrong in the former elections, and should correct it now," said H.B.
"Besides the successful management of the CHP local organization during the pre-election process, the economic state Turkey has been going through for some time was determinative of the election results in Antalya," said Abbas Tarakçı, CHP Manavgat district leader.
"The Antalya people know well how to earn money and how to spend it. The negative effects of the economic crisis, especially on the tourism sector, were important in determining the decision of Antalya," Tarakçı said.
AKP mistakes benefit MHP
Another striking result of the elections in Antalya, just as across the country, is the serious increase in votes for the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. MHP received almost 17.5 percent of the votes, a 12 percent increase when compared to the 2004 elections. Some five districts including, Aksu, Elmalı, Kemer, Korkuteli and Serik, went to the MHP government.
Some think that the increase in MHP votes was also a result of the AKP government’s mistakes in general.
"The questionable AKP policy on the Kurd and Armenian cases seems to have disturbed the people a lot in Antalya as in Turkey in general. The people, having nationalistic feelings must have felt threatened by this policy of the AKP and thought it was of urgent need to change the local administration, or rather ’reign’ of the AKP before it was too late," said Mustafa Hakerdem, a 58-year-old retired teacher.
"Above all, these elections showed the understanding of ’democracy’ of the Turkish people. I really believe in our citizens. We are able to say ’stop’ as we can say ’go ahead’ when required," Hakerdem said.
On the other hand, Eşref Uysal, CHP Gazipaşa district leader, is of the opinion that the general aura at these elections will also reflect in the coming general elections. "The effect of the successful municipal work conducted by the CHP organizational network played a crucial role in getting this result in the city," Uysal said.