Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has met with potential candidates for mayoral posts in the 2019 local elections in the three most populous cities in Turkey. They are listed in the top ranks in the party's surveys, Turkish media has reported.
According to a Hürriyet daily report published on Friday, the CHP focuses on candidates who represent sociological demographics of their constituency and on whose name the local party organization have agreed upon.
For the mayoral race in the capital Ankara, the party is seriously considering the former mayor of Ankara's Beypazarı district, Mansur Yavaş, for the candidacy, according to the report. Yavaş was a former member of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and became the CHP candidate in the 2014 local elections against the province's long running mayor Melih Gökçek and lost the election in a neck and neck race.
While Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly still supports Yavaş's candidacy, the party organization is uneaseywith his name. Yavaş reportedly wants to enter the race as a joint candidate of the CHP and the Good Party (İP), which was formed by former MHP dissidents last year. Some members had criticized Yavaş's transfer to the CHP in 2014 due to his right-wing record. Former president of the Ankaragücü football club, Cengiz Topel Yıldırım, has also came to the fore as an alternative to Yavaş.
In another province where the CHP has long failed to won municipal elections, the cultural and commercial capital Istanbul, CHP presidential candidate Muharrem Ince's name had circulated in media as a possible candidate. İnce has neither confirmed nor denied the reports, but said, "The person who puts an end to the AK Party's 25-year administration in Istanbul would come up as a possible presidential candidate." Ince's statement was interpreted as a green light for a mayoral candidacy and further run in the presidential race in the 2023 elections. Apart from Ince, the party's general secretary Akif Hamzaçebi previously announced his intent to run. The report suggested that veteran party member Gürsel Tekin and renowned businesswomen Ümit Boyner's names are waiting backstage. Mustafa Sarıgül, a prominent Turkish politician who entered the election as the CHP's nominee in 2014 but lost against the AK Party's candidate, is also seen as a possible CHP candidate in the upcoming elections.
In the CHP stronghold of western Izmir province, the strongest candidate is Abdül Batur, mayor of Izmir's Narlıdere district since 1999, according to the report. He had a long meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu in recent weeks. Other potential candidates were revealed as Izmir deputy Kamil Oktay Sandır, Izmir's Seferihisar district Mayor Tunç Soyer and businessman Hasan Bayraklı.
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