Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas said that he wants Istanbul to govern itself without any ‘meddling from anywhere else’.
Topbas, the city’s mayor from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was in the Buyukcekmece district of Istanbul for a program organised by the AKP for the ‘Yes’ campaign in the run up to the 16 April referendum on constitutional reform.
In defence of the constitutional reforms proposed by the AKP, Topbas said, “We need a flexible state structure. We, as Istanbul council, want our powers to be broadened. In fact, we want Istanbul to be autonomous.”
“As a mayor for the last three terms, I have seen that if the laws were different we could have achieved so much more. What do I want? I am saying that Istanbul should govern itself, no external meddling, making its own decisions. Is this wrong?” Topbas asked.
The opposition Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) advocates the strengthening of local authorities in what it calls ‘democratic autonomy’. However, this has been consistently slammed by establishment parties, including the AKP, as ‘separatism’.
The ultra-right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has supported the government’s constitutional reform package, warned that any decentralisation of power would lead to the division of the unitary state.