Having lost the Istanbul municipal elections, the ruling party has still found a way to retrieve control of the Bosphorus. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has drafted a 28-point legislative proposal it called the Bosphorus Law. With this law, the Istanbul Metropolitan would lose its authority over the Bosphorus. Instead, a new Bosphorus Chairmanship and two committees would be conferred control over it.

With the new regulation, the Bosphorus Chairmanship and the Bosphorus Culture and Nature Assets Protection and Regulation Committees are established. All of which would be run by the President’s men.

When the news first broke out, it was widely said that Erdoğan was taking back the elections he had lost. Yet Erdoğan is not not the only one involved.

What happened to Göreme Valley National Park?

Last week, Turkey’s Göreme Valley ceased to be national park. The reason for this was the foundation of the “Cappadocia Area Chairmanship”, its full name being the Law Regarding Cappadocia. The law, which was passed in parliament last May, places Cappadocia under the full reign of the Chairman. Yücel Menekşe, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) from Nevşehir, said that the new Area Chairmanship would consist of four provinces and nine towns.

This Cappadocia Area Law heralded the Bosphorus Area Law which was a gift from our representatives to the Presidency regime, especially on the part of the opposition.

CHP: Long live to the area chairmanship regime

The-12 point Cappadocia Area Law Draft was passed with only 10 “no” votes and 237 “yes” votes. The AKP and its ally MHP, who hold 291 seats together, voted 237 “yes” while only 10 from the opposition, who hold 300 seats, voted “no”. They are very reluctant about voting “no”.

An MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and representing the province of Adana argue the Cappadocia Area Law should be extended to Turkey’s 16 other geoparks.

The CHP, which supported the bill in the General Assembly, did not vote. No CHP MPs voted against it. The 10 “no” votes came from members of the İYİ party.

The CHP MP from Nevşehir pledged to take the matter to court once the Göreme Valley loses its status with the adoption of the new law.

The reality of construction projects

The CHP’s main problem is that it cannot distinguish itself from the AKP in the political space. The party doesn’t to anything unless society does. When was the last time the CHP wrote a bill from its own initiative just to inform the public.

Could it not predict that the Cappadocia Area Chairmanship would help the construction sector. The public as well as contractors themselves know that construction projects worth billions of Turkish lira are behind this bill. New roads, which will cost 4 billion lira are to be built. A highway that began to be built in 2018 and which connects Ankara to Niğde, passing through Göreme, will also cost around 4 billion Turkish lira. The 330 kilometre-long highway will be start operating in 2020.

This is something the opposition has completely refrained from discussing.

Trustees for the Bosphorus

It is very clear that the had CHP fully the Cappadocia Area Chairmanship. As Ekrem İmamoğlu was running to be mayor of Istanbul, CHP members of parliament explicitly backed the Cappadocia Law. Emboldened by this success, the AKP came up with the Bosphorus Law.

The CHP has not been able to stop a legislation for a long time. It has not drafted any bills supported by society either. While the public prevented olive groves and forages from opening up to construction through the government’s Production Reform Package in 2017, the CHP was conspicuously absent. Instead, it only engages in populist policies, with little concern for democracy. In the face of Selahattin Demirtaş being sent to jail, troops being sent to other countries and democratically elected mayors are replaced with state-appointed trustees. For instance, the mayor of Cizre, who was ousted and replaced with trustees, had been elected with 77 percent of the votes.

As citizens, we are deeply discontented about the CHP turning its back to such environmental issues. Some members of the CHP themselves are dissatisfied with the situation. The local elections testified to the weak standing of the government.