The contest for the local elections reaches fever pitch this week ahead of voting on Sunday. Here’s our guide to the contest.

Politics in Fethiye is ever-present but come election time, everyone aligns with one party or another, despite friendships or family allegiances.

White vans plastered with photos of suited men and symbols of the different parties, cruise around broadcasting party slogans and music at a distorted volume.

Apathy Doesn’t Rule – OK

‘This is a great time!’ exclaims Alex Özensoy, ‘unfinished jobs suddenly get done and scrubby bits of waste land are transformed into children’s play areas.’ My four year old daughter is delighted.

Unlike elections in some other countries it is intense and apathy has yet to take hold.

It is also a legal requirement to vote – local authorities in the UK have been elected on turnouts of less than 20%. That can’t happen here.

Fethiye has six parties hoping to earn support from the local electorate; ensconced in ‘Election Offices’, these temporary premises and surrounding areas are decorated with the party colours.

Outsized posters of the candidates peer down like ‘big brothers’ from billboards.

Scarves, pens and badges are ‘carrots’ dangled to attract potential voters.

They have printed enough pamphlets to decimate a forest.

Party candidates when asked the same questions, all answered with the same enthusiastic optimism.

Fethiye can be a utopian dream regardless of which party wins: although the reality may differ!

Defending their Seats

{mosimage}Since 1999 the mayor of Fethiye has been Beh椴 Saatci and he, together with the 25 strong municipal committee, are from the MHP (See the end of the article for what these initials stand for).

On the other hand, the Olüdeniz Municipality has been under CHP control with Kerametin Yilmaz as the mayor. Here there are 9 committee members.

Manifesto!

All the parties agreed that in some ways Fethiye and Olüdeniz are lagging behind other major resorts and all proposed to encourage independent quality hotels in the area.

All the parties made a commitment to help with creating a sustainable and economically viable tourism sector.

The parties all insisted that ‘working together’ was the way forward in these economically straightened times and this ‘camaraderie’ must extend to all parts of the community.

Economic and social input by foreign nationals requires some sort of cross cultural committee to enrich the individual parties’ programmes.

The general feeling seemed to be that more needs to be done for and with resident foreigners.

AKP said that they would not consider licence changes – with particular reference to alcohol sales and said it was up to individual owners, not for them to legislate.

‘We hope things don’t change here! We like things the way they are’ say holidaymakers June and Eddie Balls from Manchester.

Education is addressed with equal vigour. This was particularly noticeable when discussing environmental issues, which appears to have taken on a greater importance when it comes to recycling and rubbish disposal.

The role of women in local politics is rather less than could be hoped. Two or three women members are the norm, although DSP has 7, Anavatan has none.

Families have been expected to be responsible for the disabled, old and vulnerable but now, community based care is required and all parties addressed this aspect of social policy.

Richard Purdon, a regular visitor to Fethiye and a wheelchair user, wishes that the town was more accessible. ‘Asking people like me what could be done to improve matters would be a good idea,’ he admits. ‘There are many places I can’t visit.’

In conclusion, all parties are trying to tackle some important issues and it is refreshing to see these have finally entered the political arena but only time will tell whether these will be implemented.

Voting Sunday 29 March

The polling stations will be in public buildings, schools and health centres and the results will be made available as soon as the ballots are counted.

The Who’s Who

Here are the parties standing for election in Fethiye and Olüdeniz, in alphabetical order.

Adalet ve Kalkınma Partesi: (AKP) JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTY

Cumhurriyet Halk Partisi: (CHP) REPUBLICIAN PEOPLE’S PARTY

Demokrat Parti:  (DP) DEMOCRAT PARTY

Demokratik Sol Parti: (DSP) DEMOCRATIC LEFT PARTY (Fethiye)

Milliyet槠Hareket Partesi: (MHP) NATIONALIST MOVEMENT PARTY

Saadet Partisi: (SP) Felicity Party (Fethiye)

Anavatan Partesi: (AP) Motherland Party (Olüdeniz)

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