Flower power: Turkey voters to get 40 million flowers

AFP , Sunday 17 May 2015

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu throws carnations towards his supporters after his address at an election rally in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Perhaps they hope that the fragrant smells and blooming petals will be transformed into instant electoral success.

But the penchant of Turkey's politicians for throwing flowers into crowds at rallies has given a huge boost to the domestic flower industry, which expects to deliver 40 million flowers in the run-up to June 7 legislative polls, an association chief said Sunday.

"The interest in cut flowers on the part of politicians has increased in recent years," said the head of the central Anatolian plant producers association, Osman Bagdatlioglu.

"We expect to deliver this year 40 million flowers to politicians for voters," he told the official Anatolia news agency.

He said that practice of handing out flowers dates back just five or six years in Turkey.

It has become hugely prominent in the campaign for the June 7 legislative elections, with leaders such as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his wife Sare throwing flowers into the crowds at the start and end of every political rally.

But the habit is far from restricted to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu also hurling flowers into the crowds.

Bagdatlioglu said that the flowers largely came from export surplus and were cultivated in Yalova in northwestern Turkey, Izmir in the west and Antalya on the southern coast.

"We don't see sending the flowers to politics as a financial gain. The flower as symbol of power, peace and love in political meetings makes great sense," he said.

The AKP is waging an all-out campaign in the elections in the hope of scoring a landslide victory and a big enough parliamentary majority to change the constitution and create a presidential system under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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