Turkey’s Communications Directorate clarifies campaign promise of AKP candidate Kurum

Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate on Jan. 26 issued a clarification regarding the “Family Card” campaign promise made by ruling AKP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum which drew criticism on social media. 

Duvar English

Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate on Jan. 25 issued a clarification regarding a campaign promise of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum. The directorate held that Kurum’s “Family Card” promise was deliberately misrepresented on social media as “Father Card.” 

Murat Kurum on Jan. 25 held a campaign speech at the “Vision for the Turkish Century” meeting in Istanbul. He referred to the “Mother Card” scheme implemented by current mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu that offered free public transportation to mothers with children aged 0-4.

Kurum said he would introduce the “Family Card,” which would offer free public transportation to fathers as well as mothers with children aged 0-6. The suggestion was met with sarcasm on social media, with some news outlets dubbing it the “Baba (Father) Card.” 

The Communications Directorate intervened and published a statement through the social media account of its Center for Countering Disinformation. The directorate refuted some news articles suggesting that Murat Kurum promised a “Father Card.” 

The statement held, “No such phrase was uttered by mayoral candidate Murat Kurum,” and warned against such “manipulative” news media. 

The Directorate was established in 2018 with the main objective of "strengthening the Turkish brand." With exorbitant budgets surpassing various ministries, the directorate has drawn criticism in the past from opposition politicians.

Dubbing it the “Propaganda Directorate,” politicians have stated that the directorate used its extensive means to circulate AKP's talking points and spread disinformation on opposition parties, especially in the months leading up to the general elections of May 14. 

Directorate head Fahrettin Altun has been an outspoken supporter of the ruling AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, often personally taking the stand to dismiss oppositional news outlets.