Compromise key with rivals ruling different municipal layers

Published 11.04.2019 00:07

Newly elected mayors in Turkey's 81 provinces have started taking their mandate in municipalities where the top election board announced official results. However, incompatibility between winners of municipal councils and mayoral posts in some provinces will likely push both sides to compromise on certain municipal issues.

In the March 31 elections, Turks voted on three different ballots: Municipal councils, districts and province mayors. For example, in western Bolu and Yalova provinces, Republican People's Party (CHP) candidates won municipal mayoral posts, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) holds the majority of municipal councils. A similar outcome emerged in eastern Ağrı and southeastern Şırnak province where AK Party candidates won mayoral elections and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) received the majority on municipal councils. Municipal councils can be considered the ultimate decision-making organ for certain issues. For example, district budgets, which are determined and approved by district municipalities, are discussed by the council and later may be amended by it to ensure integrity between services and investments determined in the budget. The municipal council also makes supervisory decisions to provide unity and harmony on metropolis services in districts. The term of the council, which is chaired by the metropolitan mayor, lasts five years.

Both mayors and councils have their own roles in city administrations. Mayors have the authority to assign all department heads and directors. There are, for example, many departments, including transportation, environment, information technologies and culture, which are departments functioning under the municipality. Also, there are sub-directories for each department; for example, transportation planning, transportation management and traffic division directories work under the transportation department.

Municipal councils, on the other hand, can change names of streets, parks, avenues, etc. in the cities. It also has some powers over city management. For example, master plans for transportation are decided by directories of municipal councils. This means that to construct a metro line, a municipal council decision is needed for arrangements concerning zoning status and transportation.

In addition to these roles, mayors and municipal councils share power in some fields, such as financial duties. Mayors have various responsibilities, such as opening certain tenders, assigning administration of municipal companies and calling for general assembly for these companies. However, for some financial activities, such as a capital increase or takeover process, municipal companies need to get approval from the municipal council.

Mayors can also decide to make investments in cities from designated budgets. For example, to build parks, lay asphalt or make advertisements, the mayor's signature is enough. On the other hand, authority for allocating premises or purchasing properties for metropolitan municipalities lies with the municipal council. In some cases, state mechanisms also intervene in processes. For example, general-secretaries of metropolitan municipalities should be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. However, in cases where the ministry does not approve, the general-secretary can be determined with an appointment by the mayor.

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