Turkish parties mull over possible candidates to win in local elections

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 02.11.2018 21:51

The March 2019 local elections are expected to be very competitive in the most-populated provinces, and political parties are meticulously choosing the right candidates for those regions who have the potential to win.

While some names have been announced, parties have yet to decide on their candidates in critical provinces.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Chairman and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly demanded members of the Central Executive Board (MYK) to write their preferences for possible candidates in Ankara, İstanbul and İzmir metropolitan municipalities and give it to him in a sealed letter on Wednesday, during the MYK meeting.

Accordingly, Erdoğan was expected to discuss the strategies for local elections at the Central Decision and Executive Board's (MKYK) meeting held yesterday. The party was also expected to discuss the process of determining candidates in this meeting. The party is expected to accept applications for mayoral candidates between Nov. 5 and 12 while tendency surveys for nomination candidacy continue in some election districts. The AK Party has not announced candidate names for the elections so far.

Turkey's three most populated provinces: cultural and commercial capital Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and western İzmir province are the provinces parties compete for.

While the AK Party has been the victor in Istanbul and Ankara in the past few elections, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has had a hold on the mayoral post in the party's stronghold İzmir province. Parties see results, particularly in Istanbul, as a reflection of their overall success in the both general and local elections.

Meanwhile, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğu, signaled the candidacy of Mansur Yavaş, who finished third in the 2009 elections as a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate, for Ankara Metropolitan Municipality mayor.

Speaking on a television program on Thursday, Kılıçdaroğlu said that Yavaş is a prominent name in politics and the party is still talking about a possible candidacy with him. Yet, Kılıçdaroğlu underscored that there is no need to discuss possible candidacies when there are still five months left to the elections.

Several CHP leading figures have also voiced their intention to run for mayor in Istanbul, including the party's presidential candidate for the June 24 elections and leading dissident figure Muharrem İnce.

Commenting on possible alliances in the upcoming elections, Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated that they will ally with the hearts of the voters and mainly focus on determining candidates that can attract votes from other parties. Although Kılıçdaroğlu did not name any party, he said that they may cooperate with any party against the current ruling of the government. "If there is a request of cooperation, we may talk with Good Party's (İP) and Felicity Party (SP)" he said. The Nation Alliance formed by the CHP, the İP, SP and the center-right Democrat Party (DP) received 33.9 percent of the votes in the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, while the People's Alliance of AK Party and MHP received 53.7 percent of the votes.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will participate in the elections in every electoral district of Turkey with its own candidates, Devlet Bahçeli, the head of the party said recently, stating that there will be no alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The two parties had previously joined forces in the People's Alliance for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections. Since Bahçeli's statement, the party has been evidently struggling to find candidates, particularly in major provinces like Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara.

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