Turkish parties aspire to win metropolitan cities in local elections

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) are focusing on winning Turkey's three major metropolitan cities in the upcoming March 2019 local elections. While the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced they will collaborate in the upcoming elections to challenge the CHP in its strongholds including İzmir, the CHP is reportedly formulating strategies to win metropolitan cities, especially Istanbul and Ankara. The CHP's Eskişehir deputy Utku Çakırözer stated that their primary focus is to win cities that are not currently being administered by his party.

"Shaping strategies to win Istanbul, Ankara and other cities of other parties is our primary focus" Çakırözer said yesterday in a press briefing.

Meanwhile, the AK Party won previous local elections in Istanbul, the most populated province and country's commercial capital. For nearly two decades, the ruling party also won the local elections in the capital Ankara.

AK Party's vice chairman responsible for local administrations, Mehmet Özhaseki, said last week that it is possible to continue the cooperation with the MHP in the upcoming elections in accordance with MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli's demand for an alliance.

As the People's Alliance, which was formed by the AK Party and MHP, has proven to be successful in the June 24 elections, both parties are seeking to carry the momentum into local elections.

They are hoping to win İzmir, the Çankaya district of Ankara, Kadıköy in Istanbul and several other strongholds of the CHP with symbolic potentials.

In the local elections of 2014, the AK Party had won 35.92 percent of the votes in İzmir, one of the three metropolitan cities, falling behind the winner CHP with 49.58 percent of the votes.

İzmir has been considered the stronghold of the CHP for many years now. Yet, it seems that the alliance of the AK party and the MHP may force the CHP's hand in İzmir. The AK Party is expected to present candidates that may even appeal to CHP voters.

On the other hand, CHP Vice Chairman Seyit Torun said last Friday that, "We will form the alliance only with our constituents," dispelling rumors on a possible alliance with the Good Party (İP).

Commenting on the party's local election strategy, he said, "We will hold primary elections, we will conduct polls and our candidate selection will be changed according to the region."

Meanwhile, the CHP has been experiencing heated debates within the party sparked by poor results in the June 24 elections. Dissidents within the party, who blame incumbent Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had started a petition to convene an extraordinary convention. Yet, the dissidents failed to reach quorum. Since then, divisive voices within the party have not settled down.

Considering the intraparty turmoil, pundits have said that the CHP may lose votes by refusing to form an alliance.

Most recently, former CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal stated in his commentary published in the media on Monday that in-house discussions calling for a change in the administration with an extraordinary convention should be ended.

"I do not want to fuel the heated debates of convention and change in the party. Internal feuds should be ended as soon as possible. I prefer to overcome the discussions by not adding something new. The country is our priority," Baykal said.

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