Istanbul snow storm ignited controversy over the municipality’s performance and Imamoglu’s efficiency

It is not the first time that Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has faced a wide campaign of criticism in his handling of crises, as he appeared in pictures skiing with his family in Erzurum, days after the killing of more than 40 Turks in a violent earthquake that struck the eastern province of Elazig.

Istanbul – The great snow storm that hit Istanbul and large parts of Turkey has ended, leaving behind a lot of damage and a debate – which may not subside in the coming days at least – about the performance of the metropolitan municipality and the efficiency of its mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, who belongs to the Republican People’s Party, the largest opposition party in the country.

The storm, which began with last Sunday evening, has put the municipality’s performance to the test with road closures, car breakdowns, and chain traffic accidents in the streets, and large numbers of citizens were forced to spend the first night of the storm in mosques, public libraries, service centers and various sub-municipal institutions, which turned to shelters.

As far as the accumulation of snow that officially disrupted life in the city for 3 days, voices were raised in evaluating the municipality’s performance and effectiveness in dealing with the crisis at the political and popular levels, as government and opposition parties in Turkey exchanged accusations about the responsibility for the effects of the snow storm on the major city, which is inhabited by more than 16 one million population.

The controversy was evident in statements, or through the practical positions of the two teams, which seemed clear with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan directing Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Adil Kara Ismailoglu, and Chairman of the Disaster Management Board “AFAD” Yunus Sezer, to Istanbul, in a move that was demonstrated by Supporters of the government as an attempt to save the city from the inability shown by the municipality in dealing with the crisis.

Yeni Şafak newspaper, which is close to the government, commented on a picture of Soylu among the citizens, saying that he came to Istanbul after the municipality failed to combat the snow that caused thousands of citizens to suffer, and returned to Ankara after working to open the main roads without sleeping.

The decisions of Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya – from the ruling Justice and Development Party – related to suspending work hours, banning the movement of private vehicles, opening shelters, preventing delivery service vehicles from operating, and banning movement by motorcycles, bicycles and scooters; From a picture of the state and its governmental body holding the affairs of citizens who missed snowplows and municipal mechanisms on the first day of the storm.

fish with ambassador

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was subjected to a sharp wave of criticism from the people on social media platforms after the spread of a picture of him receiving the British ambassador to Ankara at a famous fish restaurant in Istanbul during the stormy hours that covered the city.

And videos appeared of citizens stuck in the streets at the same time, screaming and criticizing Imamoglu, and one of them shouted, “I left the car idle in the street, I have to walk in this snow 12 kilometers, so far I have walked 5 kilometers in the snow, thank you Mr. President Akram Imamoglu Everything has become beautiful,” in a comment on Imamoglu’s campaign slogan for the municipal elections, which was under the title “Everything will become beautiful.”

Supporters of the mayor commented on the photo by denying it at first, then Imamoglu commented on the photo by saying that he took an hour’s break to have lunch after 19 hours of work in the field, and that hosting the ambassador, who naturally came from Ankara, was scheduled on his program 25 days ago.

Imamoglu responded with a counter-attack on AKP supporters in a tweet on Twitter, in which he said, “They could not digest the loss they suffered 3 years ago,” referring to his victory over the party’s candidate, Binali Yildirim in the Istanbul mayoral elections in 2019.

apology and controversy

Imamoglu appeared in a later television interview, offering his apology to the people of Istanbul for the municipality’s performance, and said, “The snow has been rarely heavy for years.” “I apologize to the citizens who got stuck in the road and were hurt, but we reduced the crowding and eliminated the problem in a short time,” he added.

Yasin Aktay, an advisor to Turkish President Erdogan, published a picture of Turkish Industry Minister Mustafa Farnak eating a sandwich while he was sitting with his aides on one of the stairs, and wrote on it, “This is how a meal break is in times of crisis for the official who appointed him to serve the people,” in a clear allusion to Imamoglu’s story with the fish restaurant.

During the days of the storm, hashtags related to the performance of the Turkish government and the Istanbul municipality towards the storm were topped on Twitter. Ekrem Imamoglu’s supporters went to defend the municipality’s performance through hashtags highlighting the exceptional severity of the storm, such as the hashtag (Boylesini Hic Gormemistik), which means “we have never seen such before.” And the tag “Otel”, on which pictures of the stranded people at Istanbul Airport spread, and they spread out on its land and corridors after the suspension of flights due to the snow storm.

Where is the salt?

As for the mayor’s opponents, they launched the hashtag “imamoglu”, in which they expressed their anger at the Istanbul municipality’s management of the crisis, and posted pictures of a snowplow and a car spraying salt on the mayor’s road while he was heading to and leaving the fish restaurant.

Opponents of Ekrem Imamoglu also published other soma that topped the trend in Turkey, including “Balik” and “There is no salt” (Tuzyoktuz), in which they mocked Akram Imamoglu’s statements in which he said that the municipality does not face a problem with the salt stocks that are sprinkled on the streets To increase its roughness and reduce slips caused by the accumulation of snow.

In a sarcastic response to Akram Imamoglu’s statements, Turkish Industry Minister Mustafa Farnak said that the mayor salted fish in the restaurant he visited during the snow storm instead of salting the streets, while Murat Ongo, a municipality spokesman, commented on the salt issue by saying that the Istanbul municipality used 41,000 and 680 tons of salt, and the municipality’s warehouses contain 150,000 tons for use.

The Turks compared Imamoglu’s performance to that of former Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas, who managed the heavy snow crisis in 2017, calling for the mayor to resign, after what they described his performance as “a fiasco.”

A number of tweeters said that Tobash was distributing snow plows in the city streets before the storm and establishing field emergency centers to intervene in its neighborhoods, and spraying salt in the streets early in the snowstorm, and coordinating with government departments to suspend work and work before the storm, to reduce pressure on Streets and facilitate the work of the municipal teams.

In this state of pandemonium, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu – who is the head of the Republican People’s Party to which Imamoglu belongs – broke his silence, defending the mayor, and said, “You are still mayor, and the rest is nonsense.”

Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements come at a time when news is circulating about the intensification of the dispute between him and the mayor over the eligibility of each of them to run for the position of the opposition forces for the presidency in the face of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Akram Imamoglu had previously faced similar situations of criticism in his handling of crises, as he appeared in pictures skiing with his family in Erzurum, days after the killing of more than 40 Turks in a violent earthquake that struck the eastern province of Elazig in January 2020. .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.