There is no need to explain the depth of the crisis created by the coronavirus. The modern world has never seen anything like this and today all of our lives are on hold due to this pandemic. Our main priority today is the health crisis caused by the spread of this virus. The cursory results April survey on which is still being conducted, demonstrates that the awareness on the significance of coronavirus is much higher among the public compared to two weeks ago. This increase in awareness is probably due to the announcement made by the Minister of Health regarding the total number of positive cases by city. I wish the Ministry of Health had announced these numbers earlier.

In the midst of this crisis, just when we thought politics was on hold, a new dispute emerged as a result of the topic of donation campaigns. The government started a donation campaign called “Biz bize yeteriz” which is quite difficult to communicate to the public. “Biz bize yeteriz” is a donation campaign on a national level where citizens are asked to make donations to the bank accounts provided by the government in order to help those who are in need. Some municipalities such as Ankara and Istanbul started similar campaigns however the donation accounts for these municipalities were frozen by the government.

There are two reasons why I believe this move by the government is wrong. The first one is the economic aspect of the crisis. Macroeconomic analysis shows that the effects of the crisis on the economy will be harsh but it is difficult to estimate the extent to which the real sector will struggle once the health crisis is solved. However, there is a more immediate problem ahead. People who work off the books and people who do not have any savings or depend on monthly income will need support from any public administration.  There is no difference whether the support comes from municipalities or the government. It is possible to claim that municipalities will be faster and more accurate when it comes to distributing the raised funds. As a result, the freezing of the donation accounts of municipalities will immediately effect the group I mentioned above. 

The second reason lies in the results of our recent survey. Last month we conducted a local governance satisfaction survey in the one year anniversary of the March 31, 2019 local elections. The survey was conducted in the three metropolitan municipalities to see how they performed in the past year.

One result I would like to share with you is that when we asked the participants to rate their metropolitan mayors, all three mayors received an overall of 3 out of 5 points. This means that there is considerable support to Mansur Yavaş and Ekrem İmamoğlu from AK Party and MHP voters. In fact when we asked the participants if they would vote for Ekrem İmamoğlu if he were to run again, 53% stated that they would. On the other hand, when we look at our monthly “Leader Success” results it seems that President Erdoğan has maintained his approval.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how successful do you find the mayor of your city?

Overall, the move by the government to freeze the donation accounts of municipalities will not benefit anyone. As the economic effects of the coronavirus becomes more evident, it will be more difficult to communicate the reasoning behind this move to the public. Finally, I would like to repeat something I have been telling over and over again. It is not the public that is getting polarized, it is the politics. And those who polarize will lose this race.