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This campaign is for real

Turkish elections always produce some delightfully earnest campaign material. This video is a great early candidate.

“Hand in hand for more fine service
Bahçeli Evler
Muhtar candidate
Ramazan Bağırtkan”

Those hoping to become mayor of Istanbul will be pouring millions into their slick operations, but local elections tend to be the liveliest because the sheer range of candidates involved.

It’s easy to forget the every neighbourhood in the country also has to elect a muhtar, a local representative. Candidates for that illustrious office tend to have no campaign funds but lots of moustache for the leaflet (see right).

Other candidates reach for the power rhyme. Most Turks remember with a chuckle the Independent Turkey Party leader Haydar Baş’s decision to play on his name: İş, Aş, Haydar Baş (Jobs, Food, Haydar Baş). Tick.

But good news! Poetry is back for the 2014 election, for which campaigning has started four months early.

Abdullah Çelik is the council’s head of IT in Istanbul’s Eyüp district, and he wants the governing AK Party’s nomination to be its candidate for mayor.

We join Mr Çelik as he is driven to his a local patisserie. He has a driver, you see, and he parks in the middle of the road, which shows us he’s a man who’s done good. We follow him as he saunters down the street alone and into the alarmingly empty shop, where he greets the shopkeeper with every salutation imaginable in the Turkish language.

During their tête-à-tête our hero points out the sky, recites some poetry and buys pastries for his kids. He leaves the shopkeeper utterly awestruck.

He is the clear inclusive candidate: he likes savoury AND sweet things, he is an expert at memorising Yunus Emre and he can pick the perfect mournful theme tune. He’s also pretty good at getting out of paying his bill.

James in Turkey is delighted to present Abdullah Çelik’s campaign video to you, complete with English subtitles. Don’t say we never give you anything.