Turkey councils cut services after ruling party loses local seats

Turkey councils cut services after ruling party loses local seats
Services by various local authorities in Turkey have been cancelled in the wake of Sunday's local elections, which saw several cities transferred from the governing AKP to the opposition CHP.
4 min read
02 April, 2019
Fixed-price food stalls set up to counter rising inflation were removed in Ankara [AFP]

Electricity prices in Turkey have shot up and local authorities have cancelled services after a transfer in the control of several major cities from the control of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Sunday's local elections.

The AKP on Tuesday announced it would contest election results in all of Istanbul's districts, as well as the results of the mayorship races in Istanbul, Ankara and Igdir.

It comes after the ruling party's mayoral candidate for Istanbul and former prime minister Binali Yildirim claimed yesterday that more than 200,000 invalid votes may have affected an
apparent CHP victory in the metropolis.

Fixed-price food stalls set up by local authorities in Ankara amid an economic crisis were abruptly removed on Monday after CHP politician Mansur Yavas seized the long-time AKP stronghold on Sunday, Sozcu reported.

The low-cost fruit and vegetable stalls were erected in neighbourhoods across Istanbul and the capital Ankara in February to counteract rising costs of living which had left locals struggling to buy basic produce. An economic crisis has embattled Turkey since last summer.

Produce has been sold in the local municipality-run stalls at between 50 to 70 percent of market price, while the cost of some food items had increased by up to 800 percent by February.

Although the stalls had always been planned as a temporary measure, AKP officials had earlier said the cut price stalls would continue to operate into the coming summer.

Electricity prices on Monday shot up by 37 percent according to Gazete Duvar.

Rates had been frozen by the government for months before the elections in a bid to slow inflation and stimulate economic growth. The central bank of Turkey has also been accused of taking measures to temporarily improve a freefall in the Turkish economy before Sunday's local elections.

Bus drivers in Antalya, a Mediterranean coastal city in southern Turkey, were told on Monday a plan to provide free public transportation for four hours a day for five years had been cancelled in a text message from the municipal director of AKP Mayor Menderes Turel, dokuz8NEWS reported. Antalya residents had begun to receive free public transport between 5am and 7am and 7pm 9pm on 23 March.

After arriving in Canakkale, also known as Gallipoli in English, after 14 hours on the road, the Adana municipality's under-14 girls basketball team was reportedly told their hotel reservations had been cancelled by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Adana metropolitan officials who had just lost their seats to the CHP, according to dokuz8NEWS.

The MHP competed in last week's local elections in an alliance with the AKP.

Current CHP mayor of Canakkale Ulgur Gokhan, re-elected on Sunday, offered on Twitter to host the team in Canakkale after they were reportedly told to return home to Adana, a Mediterranean coastal city in southern Turkey.

Billboards and posters celebrating a victory for AKP candidate Binali Yildirim in Istanbul were put up across the city on Sunday night.

Although some were promptly taken down by the local authorities as the result remains contested, images of posters still remaining spread across social media on Tuesday.

Opposition supports reportedly ripped down the celebratory posters in the Istanbul neighourhood of Kadikoy, a historically secularist, anti-AKP stronghold.

The official results of Sunday's local elections are yet to be released by the Higher Electoral Authority (YSK) as of Tuesday due to complaints of "voting irregularities" by several parties, including the governing AKP and the leftist People's Democratic Party (HDP). 

Political parties in Turkey are given three days after the polls close to register complaints with the YSK, after which the final tally could still take days to be released.