The intraparty race to become the Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul mayor candidate is heating up as several key figures expressed their intention to run for the post in the March 31 local elections.
According to media reports, the party's presidential candidate in the June 24 elections, Muharrem İnce, has been revealed as the candidate with the most support in surveys, followed by the former Istanbul provincial head of the party, Gürsel Tekin.
However, the name of Istanbul's Beylikdüzü mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, has also come up. The possibility of İmamaoğlu's nomination, however, has faced criticism from some party members, who say İmamoğlu is not a popular figure.
Challenging the criticism, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly said, "He may introduce himself to the public in 10 days," adding that it would not be a difficult task to make him popular in the eyes of the voters.
"He is a very successful mayor, but the party assembly will decide who will be the candidate; therefore, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the matter," CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak said Monday.
Earlier this week, İmamoğlu told a reporter from the Turkish daily, Posta, that he is not focused on competing, rather on serving the people according to their needs and expectations. İmamoğlu, who has been the mayor of Beylikdüzü since 2014, held a meeting with the CHP's district mayors in Istanbul, a move which was interpreted as increasing the likelihood of his candidacy in Istanbul.
Kılıçdaroğlu has previously expressed his appreciation for İmamoğlu, saying he was a very successful mayor. The other name in the fore was CHP Secretary-General Akif Hamzaçebi.
The main opposition has not revealed its candidate for Istanbul yet and is holding talks about an alliance with the far-right Good Party (İP).