Dozens of opposition, independent mayors set to join Turkey’s ruling AKP

A total of 70 Turkish mayors from opposition parties and independents are set to join the Justice and Development Party (AKP) after having applied to join the ranks of the Islamist ruling party, Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday.

The district and city mayors, who represent around 2.5 million citizens, will receive their party badges in upcoming parliamentary group meetings, it said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP has rolled up its sleeves to recruit into its fold some 100 mayors and district mayors from opposition parties as the party, which has ruled Turkey for 17 years, has been faced with a wave of defections since its weak showing in the March local elections, where the party suffered its greatest loss since coming into power by losing five of the country’s most populous provinces.

The number of AKP members has decreased from 9.7 million to 9.1 million between September to October of last year with over 900,000 memberships being cancelled since August 2018, according to official figures.