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Some 40 million Turks ruled by appointed, not elected, mayors

Institutions, including private ones, whose officials were once elected are being taken over by government-appointed trustees in the president's ever-expanding arena of influence.

Turks are bitterly joking that they are now living in “Kayyumistan” or the “Land of Trustees.” The government is expanding its monopoly by appointing cherry-picked trustees to replace the elected ones. By legal and practical definition, a trustee (kayyum) in Turkey is the person appointed by the government to manage institutions, usually publicly traded commercial entities, where corruption and abuses take place, until a new management is in place. But with the state of emergency — declared after the July 2016 failed coup attempt, and still in place today — the trusteeship system has expanded to cover municipal, cultural and religious institutions.

This process began Sept. 11, 2016, with the removal of more than 90 mayors out of 102 elected pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors. This was the first step toward eliminating the HDP, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes has hindered his ambitions. The second phase of the same operation involved detaining more than 10,000 HDP officials and members.

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