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Dare Not Steal The Opposition Victory In Istanbul Elections

Turkey's politics has been shaken up after President Erdogan's ruling AKP lost major cities in nationwide municipal elections. Results in the biggest city hang in the balance.

Istanbul on March 30
Istanbul on March 30
Örsan K. Öymen


ISTANBUL — The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered a significant hit in the March 31 municipal elections. The leading opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) held onto important cities such as Izmir, Edirne and Tekirdağ, while winning back power in Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya and other key races. Turkey's capital and biggest cities are back under CHP rule after decades of AKP leadership.

The AKP still won 44% of the votes nationwide, the largest tally of any party. Their ally, the nationalist Movement Party (MHP), increased the number of municipalities they govern by just 7% because of the alliance, as AKP and MHP had agreed not to run against each other. Their alliance took 51% of the votes nationwide.

Therefore, it is not possible to talk about an absolute victory for the CHP and their ally, the Good Party (IYI), despite the politically oppressive climate and economic crisis. The CHP had 30% of the overall vote, an increase of about 5%. Moreover, polls show that CHP voters went to the ballots not because of but in spite of their leader Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu. And it should be noted that Kiliçdaroğlu​ will again be mistaken if he takes last weekend's results as a victory, and forgets that he has lost 10 elections and referendums in the last ten years. Otherwise, the CHP will again be destined for a monumental disaster at the 2023 general elections, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. A change of leadership in the CHP before 2023 is essential. For the newly elected CHP mayors, the hard work starts now, and national elections in four years will largely be riding on their success.

The manipulation will be recorded as a black mark on Turkey's electoral history.

In the wake of the vote count, it is unacceptable that the AKP is trying to pressure the High Election Council, the ultimate authority on elections, into manipulating the results. AKP's Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim declared his victory on the night of the election while the votes were still being counted, and the difference between him and CHP's Ekrem Imamoğlu was very close.

The state run Anatolia Agency stopped the data flow when the gap between Yildirim​ and Imamoğlu was closed. After the YSK declared that Imamoğlu came first in the race, Yildirim​ said: "There are 31,136 ballot boxes. If one vote is filled in incorrectly in each ballot box, this equals 31,136 votes, which is more than the difference." Then, the AKP started a power grab operation over the YSK by demanding recounts of invalid votes not only in Istanbul, but in other locations as well. This YSK's manipulation will be recorded as a black mark on Turkey's electoral history.

There were hundreds of thousands of invalid votes cast in this election, as there were in the past ones. Which invalid votes are being recounted at which ballots by the YSK and according to what procedure? The AKP and YSK are playing with fire. It is unavoidable that a major countrywide reaction will be sparked if the AKP steals Istanbul from the CHP.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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