The mystery over who will be the presidential candidate of the main opposition secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) continues to linger, while political circles close to the party predict Muharrem İnce, Yalova Deputy, as the strongest possible candidate as of yesterday.
A strong rival against the current CHP chairman from within the party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İnce comes from a moderate conservative background. The 53-year-old deputy is also portrayed as a populist and a pragmatic figure. The CHP electoral base and party provincial branches reportedly support İnce, who has been a deputy of Yalova province for the CHP since 2002.
"The candidacy of İnce is seen almost as a final decision," a source close to the party, who did not want to divulge his name, said.
Several candidates have been mentioned as possible nominees, however, and the CHP said the party's candidate will be announced on Friday.
Political rumors also point to CHP's Istanbul Deputy İlhan Kesici, if a consensus is not reached within the party on İnce. Kesici, 69, comes from a center-right background. Prior to joining politics with the CHP in 2007, Kesici is known for his political life at the center-right Motherland Party (ANAP). Kesici, who held several bureaucratic positions prior to active politics, is a low-key figure and has a pro-Western liberal worldview.
The CHP's inability to find a candidate against main rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has also irked the party's electoral base. The CHP's traditional center-left voters criticize the party for leaning towards possible center-right candidates.