'Small Steps Towards Socialism': Turkey’s First Communist Mayor

'Small Steps Towards Socialism': Turkey’s First Communist Mayor

The elected mayor knows that a socialist utopia is far from reality but small steps in economic sectors can help nudge it along.

On March 31, the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) obtained a historic win in the country’s local elections. Its candidate Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu won the Tunceli municipality, making it the first city to be governed by communists in the history of Turkey.

The elected mayor knows that a socialist utopia is far from reality but small steps in areas such as creating better local jobs and promoting cooperative farming can help nudge it along. “Of course, we are not establishing communism. We want to clear the path to socialism that has been polluted by capitalism,” he said.

Maçoğlu was previously in charge of Tunceli’s Ovacik district. There he gained popularity for fiscal transparency, getting rid of most of the district’s sizeable debt, providing free public transportation and implementing a cooperative agricultural production model for the city and neighboring districts.

"We will expand the production and administration system we started in Ovacık,” Maçoğlu said after been elected, also assuring his constituents that the municipality will be administered with the people with an “open door” policy.

A promise he’s kept. The first thing he did after taking office was to remove the walls placed by the former elected mayor around the town hall. But is aware that running a district is not the same as a bigger city, yet he is ready to adapt and implement the past successful strategies.

By promoting tourism, cooperative farms and the construction of eco-friendly homes for rent, the communist mayor wants to reduce the high unemployment rate (35 percent). He also wants to slash the municipality’s heavy debt load within two years, repeating his success in Ovacik.

“In the past, if two people fought, instead of swearing, one would yell, ‘communist, communist,’ and the other would feel offended,” Serife Ozdemir, 64, a retired teacher from nearby Malatya told Reuters. Now she is one of many Turks whose views of communism have been changed by Maçoğlu work ethic and transparency.


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