Yenikapi Square is one of those major projects with which Recep Tayyip Erdogan has immortalized himself in the cityscape of Istanbul. Created on an artificially raised peninsula, the 270,000 square meter area extends to the foot of the historic city center. Here, the Turkish president spoke after the coup attempt in 2016 in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters - and just here, CHP mayor Ekrem Imamoglu last week exposed Erdogan's AK party.
Hundreds of official cars of the city administration let the opposition politician line up on the square. Imamoglu denounces the alleged waste of public funds, which he accuses his predecessor from the AKP. "My goal is to stop waste in this city," he said.
Huseyin Aldemir / REUTERS
Vehicle fleet of the old city administration: 730 company cars are to symbolize the waste of public funds
A total of 730 vehicles were issued, 1247 vehicles were taken out of the system. The allegations Imamoglus weigh heavily. The old city administration is said to have left the cars partly party-to-persons for private use, and they are said to have been leased by companies belonging to Erdogan's party - at higher rates than usual. Without the vehicles, the city administration now wants to save almost 8 million euros a year in rent and fuel costs.
"City administration business is not a show business"
The Istanbulers were applauded for the exhibition of the vehicle fleet. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, on the other hand, was upset. "City administration business is not a show business," said the AKP politician. Istanbul's new mayor is increasingly driving the AKP forward.
Already on March 31, Imamoglu won the municipal elections with a thin majority. A little later, the result was canceled under pressure from the AKP. The party apparently feared that a mayor would disclose to the opposition how corruptly she ruled in Istanbul. Since 1994, Islamic-conservative parties have consistently been the mayor of Istanbul, the economic center of Turkey. With the new elections on June 23, this era ended.
Imamoglu won a second time - but now with a clear lead. "The system of waste" was over, he announced after the announcement of the results. Since taking office officially on June 27, the CHP politician shows that he is serious.
Millions deleted for ACP-affiliated foundations
In less than three months Imamoglu has canceled the money from several religious foundations close to the ACP:
- The largest sum should have flowed until then to the TÜGVA. Erdogan's son Bilal Erdogan sits on the Advisory Board of the Foundation.
- The TÜRGEV was founded in 1996 by Erdogan, today sits its daughter Esra Erdogan on the Supervisory Board. TÜRGEV awards scholarships to students and provides dormitory places.
- Ensar also got large sums every year - it offers places to stay and religious education. Despite an abuse scandal that became public in 2016, the foundation continued to receive public support.
- The Aziz Mahmut Hüdayi Foundation is headed by the brother of former Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topba (AKP).
The deletion of funds is expected to save more than € 56 million a year. Affected by the austerity program of the new mayor is also the government-affiliated TürkMedia group. In August Imamoglu announced existing advertising contracts of the city administration. About 1.6 million euros cost the city until then every month. TürkMedia has reacted to the loss of the major customer with extensive staff cuts.
The money saved would mean Imamoglu future use for social purposes, he announced. However, he can not decide that alone - in the City Council, the AKP still has the majority. The session of the city parliament is now broadcast live. This increases transparency and makes it difficult for Imamoglu's opponents to oppose charitable investments.
"This is just the beginning," Imamoglu commented on his first official acts. In the future, we want to be an example for the whole country, he said. As promised during the election campaign, buses and trains in Istanbul have been running around the clock since the end of August. And also the management personnel in some important city directorates were exchanged. Gürkan Akgün - a supporter of the Gezi protests - has recently become responsible for urban planning.