Five opposition, independent mayors join Turkey’s ruling AKP

Five opposition and independent mayors joined Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in an ceremony held on Tuesday in Parliament, T24 news site reported.

Ruling party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the new party members with AKP badges during the party’s group meeting, it said.

Opposition centre-right Good (İYİ) Party mayor of İncesu in Turkey’s central province of Kayseri, Mustafa İlmek, opposition Islamist Felicity (Saadet) Party mayor of Hasanbeyli in the southern province of Osmaniye, Selahattin Denizoğlu, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor of Düziçi in the southern province of Osmaniye, Doğan Öztürk, and independently elected mayors of Kemah in the eastern province of Erzincan, Fethiye Atlı, as well as the mayor of Olur in the eastern province of Erzurum, Sıddık Demir ,joined the ruling party on Tuesday. 

The move by the mayors follows a report that the AKP had rolled up its sleeves to recruit into its fold some 100 mayors and district mayors from opposition parties.

The AKP, which has ruled Turkey for 17 years, has been faced with a series of defections since its weak showing in the March local elections, including former heavyweights such as ex-prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

According to official figures, the number of AKP members has decreased from 9.7 million to 9.1 million between September to October of last year with over 900,000 memberships being cancelled since August 2018.