Dersim’s new communist mayor, Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu

For the first time in the history of Turkey, communists will be administering the municipality of a province. In the municipal elections held on March 31, running as the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) candidate on the Dersim Democratic People Solidarity (DDHD) ticket, Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu won the mainly Kurdish province of Dersim in Eastern Turkey with 32 percent of the votes. The Kurdish opposition party, Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) came second at 28 percent followed by the social democratic Kemalist CHP (Republican People’s Party) at 20 percent.

Ovacık, a town of Dersim served as an example of what a socialist municipal program can achieve

In the previous municipal elections held in 2014, Maçoğlu, again running on the TKP ticket, won Ovacık, a town of Dersim. During these last four years, under Maçoğlu’s leadership, Ovacık municipality  implemented a socialist municipal program  based on the active participation of the people in the administration of the town via local assemblies which also provided full transparency and accountability. As part of the socialist program, local infrastructure projects and formation of agricultural cooperatives were initiated. Public transport was made free, the price of the water provided by the municipality was reduced significantly and multiple public libraries were opened followed by various public art and music programs for children and adults.

Thanks to the agricultural cooperatives established that cultivated previously uncultivated fields while providing work for many unemployed, the town’s agricultural production, mainly chickpeas and beans, increased by 10 fold while the town’s income doubled. As a result, the municipal budget had a surplus which was then used to fund more public projects for the benefit of the people including scholarships for hundreds of students. In 2017, another cooperative was established for the production of organic honey which is now distributed to all of Turkey.

In complete contrast to the capitalists who see municipalities as a means to plunder public resources while also exploiting the municipal workers and the local population, Ovacık stood as a shining and living example of socialist principles in action that put the public and natural resources in the service of the needs of the people.

Speaking to a local newspaper before the recent elections, a woman living in one of the villages in Ovacık said: “As women, for the first time, we found work and we have been very happy. As Ovacık has been transformed for the better, we hope same will be true for Dersim as well.”

After Ovacık, victory in the whole province

Based on today’s election results, following the example of Ovacık, the whole province of Dersim will now be administered by TKP under Maçoğlu‘s leadership. With a population of 90,000, Dersim is a province with a very high rate of unemployment and an economy mainly based on agriculture and raising livestock. Following the success in Ovacık, this is a great chance for TKP to expand the reach of its of its socialist municipal program to many more poor and working people in Dersim while also winning many to the struggle for a socialist revolution in Turkey.

Following the election victory, speaking to soL news, Maçoğlu said:

“The doors of Dersim municipality will be open to the public. Our first act will be to convene a public meeting to discuss how to collectively administer the province.” Maçoğlu added: “We will expand the production and administration system we started in  Ovacık”. 

Thanking all his supporters for believing in socialism and supporting the electoral campaign, Maçoğlu concluded:

“We will demonstrate to the whole country that a socialist model is possible.”

Congratulations to the Communist Party of Turkey, the people and the new mayor of Dersim for this historic victory!