Erol Kaya, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy chairman responsible for local administrations, said the AK Party did not victimize any mayors in the rejuvenation process and considered many factors before making replacement decisions.
Having played an important role in the AK Party's rejuvenation process, Kaya said the party conducted a comprehensive study regarding its mayors, adding that well thought out performance assessment reports were prepared prior to make the decision to remove a mayor. "We carry out assessments regarding our municipalities, and changes are carried out pursuant to our assessment reports," he said. Stating that the reports consisted of a mayor's performance in many fields, the deputy chairman said, "Municipalities' debts, investments and staff expenses, the condition of the cities' infrastructure and the ratio of the mayors' success in keeping their promises are the main elements that we considered." He added that a mayor's success and the citizens' opinions about the mayor are also important elements for the ruling party, saying, "A mayor should work to solve citizens' problems." Kaya stressed that the AK Party also regularly conducts public surveys to measure citizens' opinions of mayors. "The latest replacements were made as results of the assessments," he said and reiterated that the AK Party did not victimize any mayors when demanding their resignation.
As part of the AK Party's rejuvenation period, it has requested that some mayors resign in a bid to increase intra-party effectiveness. Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Bursa Mayor Recep Altepe and Balıkesir Mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur all resigned their positions after receiving requests from the ruling party. The resignations raised questions in Turkish media regarding the reasons behind the AK Party's requests.
Drawing parallels to the Interior Ministry's inspections of local authorities, Kaya said political parties should also inspect their municipalities and mayors, who should not be left to their own devices. "This [inspection of the mayors] is the right of the related political party. We're carrying out these types of inspections to protect the AK Party's inner law," Kaya said and added that the mayors' performances are of great importance for the AK Party in its efforts for the presidential elections. Kaya stressed, "We are aiming for a 50+1 of the votes in the presidential elections, and the services provided by the municipalities are the driving forces for the elections."
Drawing attention to the fact that AK Party municipalities are more successful than other municipalities, Kaya explained AK Party municipalities allocate 38.5 percent of their budgets to investments. He added AK Party municipalities focus on investments and services, adding that Ankara and Istanbul have only allocated 6.3 percent and 7.4 percent of their budget to staff spending, respectively.
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