AK Party eyes CHP stronghold in municipal elections

AK Party eyes CHP stronghold in municipal elections

After coming out as the winner in the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has already begun its preparations for the upcoming municipal elections, scheduled for March next year.

It is looking to secure wins in Turkey's three most populated provinces, including the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) stronghold, İzmir.

The AK Party won previous local elections in the country's commercial and cultural capital, Istanbul, which is also the most populated province. It also won the mayoral and local elections in the capital Ankara, for nearly two decades. Yet, a win in the western province of İzmir has remained elusive for the AK Party.

The CHP has remained in charge of the metropolitan municipality for many years.

In the last municipal and mayoral elections in 2014, AK Party had won 35.92 percent of the votes in İzmir, falling behind the winner CHP, which received 49.58 percent of the votes.

Current Parliament Speaker and the last prime minister of Turkey, Binali Yıldırım was the AK Party's mayoral candidate. The CHP candidate Aziz Kocaoğlu, who has been the mayor of İzmir since 2004, won the election.

As part of the AK Party's preparations, it has begun field research, which will focus on the activities of its current mayors.

The research will measure how the mayors are perceived in the eyes of the public in their respective municipalities. In addition, the field research will aim to find out public demands in the municipalities to draw a road map for the election campaign.

The AK Party will also analyze whether the municipalities had met the pledges made before the 2014 municipal elections, while the local branches of the party will be requested to prepare reports on the performances of the mayors.

The reports will be significantly affect the nomination of candidates for the March 2019 local elections. The preparations will also figure out the public demands from municipalities run by the other political parties.

In 2014 elections, the AK Party had won in 49 provinces, accounting for more than half of Turkey's 81 provinces. The CHP, on the other hand, won in only 13 provinces.

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