An interview with Ekrem İmamoğlu, newly elected İstanbul mayor, published on El País, the greatest newspaper in Spain. Famous article writer Andrés Mourenza realized the interview with the Mayor.
Some headlines from the interview,
The social democrat Ekrem Imamoglu has become the hope of an opposition so far innocuous, after inflicting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the most painful defeats of his career: snatching the mayor’s office from Istanbul Islamists. Not once but twice: the ruling party forced an electoral replay after the tight opposition victory in March and, in June, Imamoglu swept the ballot box. However, among its collaborators the atmosphere is not cheerful. It hurts the sentence of almost 10 years in prison imposed last Friday to Canan Kaftancioglu, provincial president of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and architect of the strategy that took Imamoglu to the City Council. They know that running Istanbul is not going to be easy. The Government monitors any false steps.
Q. One of your first measures has been to cut funding to a series of religious foundations, some linked to President Erdogan’s family. Are you not looking for powerful enemies?
A. We are here to serve society. To use about 1,000 million liras [158 million euros] to finance four or five associations, which have no social implantation and are linked to certain families, is not serving society. With that money you can do many other things.
Q. Your campaign based on the fight against corruption and waste. What have you discovered in your almost three months as mayor?
A. We still cannot give a concrete answer, but we have serious indications. For example, a public contest for the dress of our employees was made and one year it cost six million lira and, the next, for more of the same product, three million were paid. In addition, it is estimated that [of the 85,000 employees of the City Council and municipal companies] there are between 4,000 and 10,000 phantom employees, who do not go to work but earn wages. We are investigating it. First we want to get rid of this waste, but then we will demand that those responsible be held accountable.
Q. How will you govern with an Assembly held by the Erdogan party [in Turkey, mayor and councilors are elected at different polls]?
A. With more transparency [Imamoglu has ordered live broadcasting of the municipal Assembly meetings]. We know that they will try to put obstacles. But, are councilors always going to vote against the interests of their citizens? They can do it once, twice. If they do it to the third, they will not be able to walk down the street without feeling ashamed. However, although some measures need the support of the Assembly, the City Council has the capacity to adopt others without the approval of the Assembly.
Q. One of the most serious problems of Turkish politics is the increasing polarization. What do you intend to do on this topic?
A. Do not leave anyone aside, find solutions for all citizens and manage the city without being partisan. That will make everyone, vote for me or not, feel part of the same society. Many former AKP voters supported me and I feel that many more would like to do so.