The Turkish president is enforcing attendance at political meetings for forthcoming local elections. Municipal officials in the Turkish capital Ankara have been forced into attending a meeting on forthcoming local elections with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The public workers were picked up and transported by municipal buses during their official working hours, local dailies reported.
Over 1,000 civil servants were moved to the Ankara civic Youth and Cultural Centre, located at Gençlik Park, and forced to sign the attendance lists, the Turkish daily newspaper, Zaman, reported. According to the participants, attendance at the Erdogan meetings was mandatory, as those who were absent were threatened with dismissal.
This comes as Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is hoping to navigate through one of the most challenging election campaigns in recent years, due to the country's shrinking economy and increasing unemployment.
Despite polls for the upcoming March 31st local elections showing that the AKP could do well in rural areas and smaller cities, the party is predicted to lose major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Antalya, Hatay and Sanliurfa.
A correspondent for Turkey’s oldest up-market daily, Cumhuriyet , interviewing a number of the security officials waiting to be transferred to the meeting, said that public servicemen who decide not to attend the gathering do so in fear of being sacked.
A security official, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, said no one wanted to attend such meetings, but do so on the pain of losing their jobs, especially as most have dependents. The official stressed that it was a matter of earning a living, pointing out that they are forced to accept their reality as ‘modern slaves,’ a label he gave to workers at state institutions.
In the meantime, municipal female workers were similarly gathered outside the Youth and Cultural Centre, where ten buses were waiting to transport them to the capital’s public square.