The recentchange of several mayors and the rejuvenation process within the party has been due to the need for fresh motivation, Erol Kaya, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy chairman in charge of local administrations, said.
Speaking at a panel held by the Foundation of Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Ankara, AK Party Deputy Chairman in charge of local administrations Kaya analyzed the reasons for the recent changes within the party and municipalities.
Stressing that cities have always played a key role in affecting politics and it retains its mission as of today, Kaya said the AK Party has done more than enough to run the cities well. Touching on the reasons why some AK Party mayors have been replaced recently, Kaya said the party needed new motivation.
"Satisfaction, appreciation and criticism of our mayors' work has raised a serious question about the future: If the AK Party did not make the changes today, the citizens would make this change in 2019," Kaya said, referring to the local elections in March 2019.
Asserting that new motivation was needed heading toward 2019, Kaya said: "Local administrations have become coaches rather than engines that are carrying us."
Despite his criticism of some mayors and municipalities, Kaya said they did not fail. "Our mayors are never under the mayors of other parties. But we started this process for 2019 to achieve greater motivation."Since his return to the party, President Erdoğan has repeatedly stressed that party members should ramp up their efforts for the upcoming 2019 elections. As part of the rejuvenation and preparations for the 2019 elections, some party members and mayors of key provinces have resigned. The president previously urged some "fatigued" party members, mayors and local district heads to do the necessary thing and step down for the sake of the 2019 elections.
Also speaking at the panel, Zahid Sobacı, a political science professor at Uludağ University, said at least a couple factors should be taken into consideration to grasp the rejuvenation process. "If we want to understand this change, we need to understand the unique characteristics of the AK Party that distinguish it from the others," he said, adding that one of the basic features of the AK Party "was to place the discourse of democratization at the center of politics from the day it obtained power."
Sobacı argued that the changes in local administrations should be seen as part of this policy. "We have to see the change in local governments as part of this democratization discourse. One of the most important values the AK Party has adopted is change and dynamism," he said.