Muharrem İnce, the former presidential candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP), said Sunday that he would run for the Istanbul mayor's office if the party chose him.
İnce, who has been critical of the CHP leadership over its apparent lack of democracy within the party, spoke of his intention to become the CHP's mayor candidate for Turkey's commercial capital Istanbul in the upcoming elections if his party held an election to choose him as a candidate.
However, the CHP plans to nominate candidates that the local party organization approve of, instead of holding elections.
İnce's remarks were seen as a reflection of his previous statements on the shortfall of democracy within the CHP, signaling the continuation of the intraparty debates that the party has been grappling with.
His name has been circulating in the media for some time now as a possible candidate. Yet, İnce had constantly underscored that he would not be a candidate for Istanbul, but insisted on becoming the next presidential candidate and the chairman of the CHP.
İnce had reportedly rejected becoming a mayoral candidate because he said it would be seen as "a favor."
As revealed by İnce's recent statements, he stipulated a "democratic primary election" as a condition to run for Istanbul where the CHP has long failed to win in the municipal elections.
Ever since getting poor results in the June 24 elections, the CHP has been in turmoil because of the internal divisions, sparked by the gap between the votes cast for İnce and the party.
İnce lost the presidential election but was 8 percentage points ahead of the party itself in the parliamentary polls.
The party has suffered nine defeats in the previous elections under the leadership of incumbent party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has been at the helms since 2011. Some party members called on Kılıçdaroğlu, whom they see as responsible for the repeated election failures, to step down.
Dissidents started a petition to convene an extraordinary convention, calling for a change in the administration on July 16.
Half of the 1,242-member delegation signed for İnce. The dissidents ultimately failed to reach the quorum and faced some harsh reaction and resistance from the party head office, including being referred to the party's disciplinary board.
In the wake of disciplinary procedures against the dissidents and Kılıçdaroğlu's insistence to stick to his seat, İnce criticized the administration by indicating that there is no democracy within the CHP and asserted that Kılıçdaroğlu controls the party with a single-man rule.
Meanwhile, the CHP administration ramped up its preparations for the March 2019 local elections as the applications period for nomination candidacy comes to an end on Oct. 19.
The first nomination of candidates and strategies for the elections will be announced in a meeting with the party's current municipal mayors on Oct. 12.
A list including approximately 100 candidates is also expected to be announced at the same meeting. Kılıçdaroğlu is reportedly planning to declare his party's candidates relatively early in a bid to extend the period for the election campaign and increase motivation within the party. The current mayors of Hatay, Yalova, Muğla and Eskişehir provinces will reportedly be nominated again, while candidates for Balıkesir and Antalya are yet to be determined. Meawhile, some members of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) such as Manisa Mayor Cengiz Ergün and Mersin Mayor Burhanettin Kocamaz may seek CHP nomination. The party's General Secretary Akif Hamzaçebi, veteran Party member Gürsel Tekin, former deputy Dursun Çiçek, Istanbul Technical University's Rector Mehmet Karaca and renowned businesswomen Ümit Boyner are vying for the Istanbul municipality candidacy, according to media reports. For the mayoral race in the capital Ankara, the party is reportedly considering nominating the former mayor of Ankara's Beypazarı district, Mansur Yavaş or its Ankara deputy Bülent Kuşçuoğlu.
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