There are two cities that might surprise in the upcoming local election: Ankara and İzmir.
In the past Ankara stood out as a stronghold of the AK Party, while the Republican People's Party (CHP) was strong in İzmir. In previous general elections, the AK Party tried to win over "stronghold" cities such as İzmir or Diyarbakır but the dominant parties came out even stronger than before. This time seems to be a little different, however.
The İzmir electorate wants to see changes in the city, while voters in Ankara want a change in the governing administration. One yearns for investment and service, the other for new faces.
So, it seems there is a new trend in both cities but how will this play out come election day? To find the answer, one has to take a look at the streets and squares.
Whenever I go to Ankara, everyone I come across points out the need for change, even in parts of the city where the AK Party is strongest.
This has nothing to do with the AK Party or CHP, or with the accomplishments of the current mayor, Melih Gökçek. Even those who acknowledge his work want a change in leadership and political lingo. This is surprising for a dynamic and volatile society.
Let us take a look at İzmir where the same sentiment is prevalent. İzmir is one of Turkey's three largest cities in terms of population. The huge turnout at the AK Party rally on March 16 has made some question whether things could be changing in İzmir.
İzmir is the only city that stands as a symbol of political polarization in the AK Party.
It has failed to pass the test, not only in terms of urban development but also in the invigoration of democracy and freedom. Likewise, it has from time to time failed to rid itself from extreme political reactions.
Failing to meet a global world, open up to new economies and challenge itself in terms of urbanization has made İzmir fall behind its neighboring city, Denizli.
This fact shows a deep change under the surface despite political polarization and increasingly intensifying tension. This has been further enforced by the candidacy of former Minister of Transportation Binali Yıldırım, who even CHP deems the most successful AK Party minister. A survey conducted in the first week of February by Optimal Research showed that 64 percent of respondents believed Yıldırım to be a successful minister. Of those with a favorable opinion of Yıldırım, 38 percent were CHP voters.
Another factor that has contributed to the huge turnout in İzmir is the Dec. 17 operations.
İzmir has a special place in the AK Party-Gülen Movement conflict and residents in İzmir are lashing out at Fethullah Gülen's attacks directed at Turkey by using İzmir as a starting point.
Interestingly enough, not only people from the National Vision Movement (Milli Görüş Hareketi) stand next to the AK Party, but also everyone else, including previous center-right voting nationalist-secularist residents.
They prefer an AK Party that can be brought to account, rather than a closed, unknown and unaccountable Gülen movement.
There is a positive connection between the huge turnout in İzmir and its underlying growing pains. Will the AK Party put this connection to good use? If the CHP does the same in Ankara, then we will be facing a truly intriguing situation.