A day with CHP Etimesgut mayoral candidate and renowned actor Beşikçioğlu in run-up to elections

Gazete Duvar spent a day with the main opposition CHP’s Etimesgut district mayoral candidate and renowned actor Erdal Beşikçioğlu. “Artists make excellent politicians,” he said while responding to criticisms in this direction.

Ceren Bayar / Gazete Duvar

Erdal Beşikçioğlu, a renowned Turkish actor, shocked the public when he was announced as the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Etimesgut district mayoral candidate in the capital Ankara.

54-year-old Beşikçioğlu has been in the field in Etimesgut for about a month and a half, listening to the voters, seeking solutions to their problems, and explaining his projects. Now Etimesgut people see him not only as an actor but also as a politician and mayoral candidate and even call him “Mayor” when they see him.

It was quite difficult to keep up with the pace of Beşikçioğlu, who we followed on one day of his journey. On the same day, Beşikçioğlu visited a factory, a bazaar, the Gençlerbirliği Sports Club which he calls “home,” attended a neighborhood meeting and met with young people together with Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Mansur Yavaş.

‘Artists make excellent politicians’

Beşikçioğlu reproached the question “Can an artist become a politician?” and said, “Artists make excellent politicians.” He said that the artist is the person who best analyzes the system between the citizen and the state. “Those who make witty comments about my candidacy are far from art and theater. I am very determined to change their vision within five years from April 1st.”

The local elections will be held on March 31.

He said the biggest need of the citizens is for discriminatory politics to end. “We need to eliminate this discriminatory understanding as soon as possible and return to our old unity and integrity.”

In the 2019 local elections, the far-right MHP candidate Enver Demirel assumed the office while receiving 49.57 percent of the votes, followed by CHP remaining at 45.72 percent.

Beşikçioğlu said he visited every neighborhood head (“mukhtar”) in the district, and added, “Especially a part of Etimesgut has been ignored for 15 years. Can there be an administrator who does not listen to his citizens? We evaluate each neighborhood in itself and determine the needs.”

Beşikçioğlu, who is also welcomed with great interest by Etimesgut residents who are not CHP voters, explained the reason for this as follows, “We have been entering everyone's homes with our artist identity for years. You know how they always say 'merit'? This is our merit. With our work, we have managed to meet our audience on a common ground, to voice their problems. We have been able to build trust with our friends who were our audience in the past and are now our voters. I will do my best not to let this trust go to waste.”

‘We didn't have to work to promote the candidate’

After this short conversation, we set off together with Beşikçioğlu and his team, namely the executives and members of the CHP Etimesgut district and youth organization.

When we asked these members about their opinions on Beşikçioğlu's candidacy, they said that they were surprised and even a little angry when they first heard his candidacy. But as time passed, they realized that it was the right choice. They say that one of the reasons for this was Beşikçioğlu's recognition. The fact that he is a well-known and popular artist who does not stay away from social issues has accelerated the work of the district organization considerably. An executive even said, “We didn't have to work to promote the candidate.”

One of the people who is working with Beşikçioğlu for the election said, “He is so popular because he is not a politician, it was a great advantage for us that he is not a politician. Voters have a great anger against politicians. However, Mr. Erdal is immediately accepted wherever he goes.”

Beşikçioğlu's first stop was a factory. Visiting the workers in the production department of the factory, Beşikçioğlu asked for their votes, shook hands with and chatted with them.

‘If I vote for CHP in this election, it will be because of Erdal Beşikçioğlu’

When it was time for the lunch break, Beşikçioğlu went to the cafeteria with the workers and had longer conversations with them.

The majority of the workers at the factory, whom we asked what they thought about Beşikçioğlu's candidacy, responded “Inshallah he will win.” One worker even said, “I have never voted for CHP. If I vote for CHP in this election, it will be because of Erdal Beşikçioğlu.”

For some workers, the motivation to vote for Beşikçioğlu comes from their dissatisfaction with the current mayor of Etimesgut, who has been in office for four terms. “Let the current mayor go, no matter who comes,” said one worker.

After the factory, we set off to attend an opening ceremony. But on the way, we decided to drive to the Gençlerbirliği sports facilities, which Beşikçioğlu calls “home.” At the club, where he was welcomed as if he had come to his home, some young athletes and employees expressed their satisfaction with Beşikçioğlu's candidacy.

‘Behzat Ç. is here’

The next stop was the opening he attended with Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş. The opening of a cafe and sports complex for young people was also a question-and-answer session. Of course, selfies were taken between conversations. When the young people learned that Beşikçioğlu was there, they informed each other and voices such as “Behzat Ç. is here” were heard.

Beşikçioğlu is known for his Behzat Ç. character, a police chief at the homicide bureau, in the series of the same name.

With the arrival of Mansur Yavaş, the “popularity” of the two names became more visible. Yavaş and Beşikçioğlu made their way through a crowd where they had difficulty walking.

After this program, Beşikçioğlu continued his work. He completed the day by attending a neighborhood market in Etimesgut and an apartment complex meeting. He asked for everyone's vote, took hundreds of photos, and noted demands and complaints. When we asked him his last message, he replied, “I wish that our fraternity will never be broken after April 1.”

(English version by Alperen Şen)