In one of my previous columns, we discussed the reasons for Türkiye's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party losing in Istanbul to the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) by 10,000 votes in the municipal elections of 2019.
I criticized the performance of the AK Party system on every occasion. Based on the lessons learned from the party's loss in the 2019 elections, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party branch in Istanbul was restructured. To begin with, the head of the Justice and Development Party in Istanbul was replaced, in the last general assembly of the party’s branch in Istanbul, and Osman Kabaktepe was elected, in his place, as head of the party’s branch in Istanbul, in an attempt to inject new blood into the party. I was one of the people who asked Kabaktepe questions on his first live broadcast. We have been trying to follow him closely for a long time, wondering how he would mix "ideals with realities."
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Osman Kabaktepe, head of the Justice and Development Party's Istanbul branch.
Kabaktepe provided me with a wealth of information about the organizational work of the party, which will start at the end of the week. He also explained to me the philosophy of the party's election campaign known as "One Hundred Days Face to Face". "Istanbul will speak, and we will listen," Kabaktepe said, referring to the Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Adil Kara Ismailoglu, the Turkish Minister of National Education, Mahmud Ozer, and the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. As well as the Vice President General, among other volunteers in the party.
When AK Party members will meet with the residents of Istanbul, they will listen to them and write down their problems, expectations, and demands.
In our previous meetings, Osman Kabaktepe divided those who voted for the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party into several groups. For example, Kabaktepe described those who voted once for the party as "far relatives", and those who voted several times as "close relatives", explaining that they intend to visit all their relatives, both near and far, and that they plan to enter their hearts Once again, referring to the embrace of all voters.
Kabaktepe indicated that, through this new election campaign, the party aims to avoid the pitfalls of the 2019 elections, and that they aspire for Istanbul to be the starting point for their victory in the 2023 elections.
“We strive to get the votes of our citizens reflected in the ballot boxes and the results of the polls.”
I asked Osman Kabaktepe a question outside the scope of the election campaign. I mentioned in my question, in particular, the campaign launched by the head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) branch in Istanbul, Canan Kaftancioglu, at the beginning of this year, under the name "The Movement for the Defense of Ballot Boxes". I said they were considering putting a lawyer at the head of each ballot box, and I asked, "Do you have any concerns about securing the ballot boxes or how to protect the vote?"
After giving technical information from the number of polling stations in Istanbul to the number of schools in which the vote will be taken, Kabaktepe said:
"In addition to polling station officials, we have also identified those responsible for our party's schools, as well as those responsible for the floors of the schools where the voting will take place. We have started training operations. We have also named 63,000 people we have as official polling officials. We will be at the head of each ballot box, And every school, every constituency. But most importantly, it's about democracy in voting in polling station committees. And we're working hard to ensure that our citizens' vote is reflected in the ballot boxes and the results of the polls."
Istanbul will be the crown jewel in the victory of 2023
Regarding the “One Hundred Days to Face” election campaign, Kabaktepe said:
"We will govern Istanbul with all love, sincerity, and determination in a way that makes it the blessed state in the victory of 2023, and party members, including ministers, deputies, and other party volunteers, will visit homes, squares, streets, and alleys in Istanbul, and they will listen to citizens' problems, suggestions, and requests, We will make it clear to you that we aspire to touch hearts before numbers with our determination to enter hearts. We will gain new members in our party, visit millions of families, hundreds of thousands of workplaces, and thousands of NGOs."
Kabaktepe continued his speech, saying: "Istanbul will move towards 2023 as one body, one heart beating for the future, and one soul living in the presence of the homeland and the nation."
After Kabaktepe talked about the ideal goal of the party, he continued, "In order to achieve this goal, Istanbul must be bigger, more precious, and dearer than names, struggles, schemes, and numbers."
Finally, Kabaktepe said: "The road is a long story open to the believers, and the aspiring paths follow. We will work hard during a hundred days to make all of us and others feel that each hero in this story is in fact a brother to us."