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Melih Gökçek, the departing Mayor of Ankara

No-one is sorry to see you go

Melih Gökçek’s resignation only evokes sympathy for the other mayors that were forced to go along with him

Barely anyone will miss Melih Gökçek, the repugnant mayor of Ankara who finally bowed to pressure from President Erdoğan and resigned on Saturday.

He ended a career in local politics lasting nearly three decades with typical hyperbole: “When I came to office, we were all looking for the green spaces within Ankara. Now, we look for Ankara within the green spaces.”

It was a neat turn of phrase that was also an utter falsehood.

In fact, Mr Gökçek leaves behind a city smothered in concrete, but relieved that he is gone.

The problem with his 23-year reign was crisply surmised by AK Party Ankara MP Aydın Ünal in a newspaper column that was widely shared last week.

Writing in the pro-government Yeni Şafak, Mr Ünal wrote:

What do we expected from a mayor? To collect rubbish? Ensure the water supply is clean and runs without interruption? To let the traffic flow without stopping? To build pavements, pour tarmac and clean the streets?

No. These could be done be an appointed bureaucrat or a director-general. What is expected from a mayor is to use the strength given by the residents who vote for him to make decisions about his city; to paint a vision for his city; to protect his city’s spirit and identity; to make his city safer and a better place to live.

Melih Gökçek did none of those things.

He mishandled public finances and mismanaged infrastructure projects. He lied about his record and slandered his critics. The allegations of bribery, nepotism and election fraud that swarm around him predate the Justice and Development (AK) Party itself.

He will not be missed.