The structure of Turkish local government was radically changed ahead of this election.
Before 2014, a municipality’s borders did not necessarily overlap with the borders of its host province. Often the biggest municipality covered only the province’s central district (coloured teal on the map), which tended to correspond to the main urban area.
For the 2014 election, municipal borders in Turkey’s 30 largest provinces — known as büyükşehir — were enlarged to overlap precisely with the province borders.
This added all other districts in the province (coloured grey on the map) and new demographic to the electoral roll. People living in smaller towns, villages and rural areas found themselves voting for the main city’s mayor — in addition to their existing local mayor — for the first time.
Forget Istanbul; for sheer political tension, Adana might be the one to follow in this year’s local election. Turkey’s fifth largest city was already a credible target for all three main parties – and that was before the city’s very own comeback kid, Aytaç Durak, threw his hat into the ring. There were then four contenders.
Mr Durak is a veteran of Adana politics, having run for mayor in every election since 1984 – six times in all – and won in all but one attempt. He oversaw the city’s rapid urbanisation and is responsible for much of its development, but a high profile spat with the prime minister and a spate of corruption allegations saw him removed from office in 2010.
He was finally cleared of all the charges in July 2013, but the council was run in his stead by Zihni Aldırmaz, a colleague from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that Mr Durak switched to in 2009. Mr Aldırmaz has not been selected to run again; the MHP candidate will be Hüseyin Sözlü, the three-term mayor of Adana’s Ceyhan district.
His main rival will be the AK Party’s Abdullah Torun, a former MP for Adana who was leading in the few polls that have come from this town. Those polls were taken before Mr Durak’s surprise candidacy, however.
Against these three centre-right candidates is the centre-left Yıldıray Arıkan for the Republican People’s Party (CHP). candidate . He is mayor of Adana’s coastal Çukurova district and commands strong support in Adana’s coastal areas; with a vote divided three ways in the more conservative inland areas, Mr Arıkan’s candidacy may gather traction.
But there was another twist in Adana’s story at the end of February, when Mr Durak withdrew from the race just as suddenly as he entered it. He threw his weight behind the MHP, but the withdrawal comes too late to remove his name from the ballot paper. How well will the non-candidate perform?
2009 results by district type
Mayor before the election
Zihni Aldırmaz (acting)
Province assembly, 2009
Predicted 2014 result
Too close to call
2014 mayoral result
|MHP||Hüseyin Sözlü [ELECTED]||414,284||33.51|
|AK Party||Abdullah Torun||394,481||31.91|
|Independent||Aytaç Durak (incumbent, withdrew before election day)||528||0.04|
Other 2014 Büyükşehir elections
Adana – Ankara – Antalya – Aydın – Balıkesir – Bursa – Denizli – Diyarbakır – Erzurum – Eskişehir – Gaziantep – Hatay – İstanbul – İzmir – Kahramanmaraş – Kayseri – Kocaeli – Konya – Malatya – Manisa – Mardin – Mersin – Muğla – Ordu – Sakarya – Samsun – Şanlıurfa – Tekirdağ – Trabzon – Van