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Turkey's Communist Mayor blocked from taking office

TURKISH election authorities moved to block Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) candidate Mehmet Fatih Macoglu from taking office as mayor of Dersim today on “security” grounds.

The Supreme Election Board (YSK) did not give any explanation for the decision which it said was based on the “security problem today.”

Mr Macoglu said: "No explanation was made. They said, ‘We don’t approve giving the mandate today because of a security problem and we don’t want to explain that’.”

Turkey’s first ever communist municipal mayor said the decision was “like a joke” but added the hold-up would “not put a spoke in our wheel” and the situation would be approached with “maturity and calm.”

He first shot to prominence as the mayor of a small town, Ovacik, where he was known for planting chickpeas, beans and potatoes in municipal lands across the district, distributing the income from the fields to low-income families and creating a scholarship for students.

Under his mayoralty, public transport was made free and the cost of water was massively reduced, with his “communist honey” proving popular in Turkey’s large cities, including Istanbul.

His victory in the largely Kurdish Alevi municipality came as Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was given a bloody nose in the local elections, suffering humiliating defeats in the capital Ankara and Istanbul, where former prime minister Binali Yildirim lost out to Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also won plaudits for its electoral strategy, which saw it not standing candidates in areas where the CHP could win.

Their candidates took back most of the municipalities that were “stolen” after the Turkish state arrested 85 elected mayors and replaced them with trustees loyal to Mr Erdogan.

The election of Mr Macoglu, who won the south-eastern province of Dersim with 32.7 per cent of the vote, has been welcomed with messages from sister parties across the world.

Solidarity messages were received from the Communist Party of Cuba along with those in Hungary, Ecuador and Spain.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) saluted the TKP for using the electoral campaign “to establish roots in dozens of new working-class and people’s neighbourhoods, which is an important achievement that will help enhance the struggle of the working class and of the popular strata in your country.”

Mr Macoglu will meet with YSK officials again today and is expected to take office this afternoon.


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