Flags and banners for various political parties abound in Turkey during election season.
Local elections are coming up next month in Turkey, and so far we've seen politicians' opponents accuse them of grandstanding for votes by storming out of a debate in Davos and speaking Kurdish in Parliament. Rival political parties have complained about each other distributing everything from appliances to coal to the poor as a way of getting votes. But, to me, one of the most surprising aspects of this campaign season have been the calls--faint as they are--for a greener, not just cleaner, election.
Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu first brought up the issue earlier this month, asking the leaders of the country's political parties to avoid the unnecessary use of bulletins, brochures, and envelopes and refrain from throwing election materials en masse out of vehicles. The chairman of the Environment, Culture and Solidarity Association (ÇEKÜD), Süleyman Yorulmaz, added his voice to the appeal this week, saying, "Mayoral candidates should avoid items that can only be used once, and instead should choose materials that can be reused or recycled after the elections."
Eroğlu also called for the omnipresent party flags and banners to be recycled, and offered the suggestion of using electronic technology to distribute messages instead of printed materials. This raised my eyebrows at first, since only around 10 percent of Turkish households have access to a computer, but cell phones are ubiquitous, and you can already get advertising, news feeds, and confirmation numbers for ticket purchases on your cell phone--even a text message when the delivery guy is waiting outside. So why not campaign messages too?
Greening platforms too
Greenpeace weighed in on what politicians can do after the election, launching an initiative called "Mayors for the Sun" [in Turkish] to help local officials develop more climate-friendly policies. The effort targets mayoral candidates in the 47 cities where new coal-powered plants are scheduled to be built, as well as those in Istanbul and Ankara, which have both been plagued by problems with dirty air. Greenpeace says 25 candidates have expressed their support so far.
More on elections and the environment:
Focus Focus Earth: Cleaning Up After the Election
How to Recycle Your Election Yard Signs
The Ultimate Obama Memorabilia? Recycled 2008 Ballot Necklaces
Sign Savers – Deciding Which Political Yard Signs and Bumper Stickers to keep for Future Elections or Memorabilia