The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is planning to start the application period for mayoral candidates for the March 2019 local elections in the first week of November.
The AK Party's nomination process has been continuing with fieldwork and touring campaigns while candidacy applications are planned to be completed within the first two weeks of November. Candidates are expected to be announced gradually starting in December.
Details on criteria, payments and procedures for applications have not yet been determined. Reportedly they will be announced in a meeting of party province heads on Oct. 25-26 under the chairmanship of the incumbent party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to plan, committees in the party administration will interview candidates regionally. The candidates will also present their projects for the province they are applying for. Following the interviews, tendency surveys will electronically analyze the preferences of the public in a short period of time. Accordingly, the recently completed fieldwork in the election region which analyzes the expectations of votes and their satisfaction with current mayors will be part of other evaluation criteria for candidates.
The AK Party has also decided to retain its alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the local elections.
The AK Party and MHP formed the People's Alliance for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections. The alliance received a majority in the Parliament by 52.6 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections. As the alliance proved to be successful, the parties are looking to carry the momentum forward to the local elections.
However, relevant laws for local elections do not permit an official alliance, contrary to the previous parliamentary elections. Therefore, the two parties will cooperate within the framework of a "political combining" model proposed by the MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli.
According to this model, the two parties will negotiate beforehand and nominate joint candidates. Bahçeli already announced his party would not present a candidate for Istanbul and would, therefore, support the nominee of the AK Party.
In relation to the issue, "We have a mutual understanding that political position created by this alliance will provide further major services for our people" the party spokesman Ömer Çelik said on Tuesday in a press briefing held after the AK Party's central executive meeting.
Touching upon whether the two parties may have differences on some issues, Çelik stated that these differences are not of such a nature as to prejudice or disrupt the People's Alliance.
Meanwhile, the application period for candidacy for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) comes to end this Friday. The party administration also announced that they will gradually announce their election candidates, starting next month. The party is planning to nominate its candidates relatively early to extend the period for the election campaign and increase motivation within the party, which was lowered by their failure in the June 24 elections.
The CHP was shaken by a massive defeat in the June 24 elections contrary to the hype created around their campaign. The party acquired 22.6 percent of votes, a lower level of support compared to the previous elections. The votes in all of the metropolis provinces and the provinces where the CHP attracts the majority of their votes also decreased considerably.
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