The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) presented Ekrem İmamoğlu, its Istanbul municipality candidate for the local elections that are expected to be held on Mach 31, in a special ceremony yesterday.
Speaking at the ceremony, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that ruling Istanbul is not an ordinary matter due to the city's historical heritage. "Istanbul is a center of universities, media, arts and cultural heritage that has been protected in its historical depth," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Taking the stage after the CHP Chairman's speech, İmamoğlu offered his thanks to all party organizations as well as to Kılıçdaroğlu for nominating him as the Istanbul candidate. "After this [election] journey, Istanbul will be the winner," he said, implying that he will be the one who triumphs at the competition on March 31.
Last week, İmamoğlu was announced as the joint candidate of the CHP and far-right Good Party (İP) for the Istanbul mayoral post. However, İmamoğlu's candidacy had drawn criticism as some party members have claimed that İmamoğlu is not a popular figure among the voter base of Istanbul.
Prior to the announcement of his candidacy, İmamoğlu, who has been the mayor of Istanbul's Beylikdüzü district since 2014, also held a meeting with the CHP's district mayors in Istanbul.
In an aim to take advice from former Istanbul metropolitan mayors, İmamoğlu also met with former Istanbul mayors, Bedrettin Dalan and Nurettin Sözen. He also said that he will request a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş.
The nearly two-decade hegemony of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Istanbul started with Topbaş's victory with 45.3 percent of votes against CHP's candidate Sefa Sirmen, who came second with 28.9 percent of the votes in 2004. Topbaş defeated current CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the 2009 elections with 44.7 percent and got his third consecutive win in 2014 with 47.9 percent against prominent Turkish politician Mustafa Sarıgül, who entered the election as the CHP's nominee.
Before the beginning of the AK Party period in Istanbul, Turkey's commercial and cultural capital had been ruled by the conservative Welfare Party (RP) and later for 10 years by the Virtue Party (FP), which was the continuation of the RP after the it was shut down. Erdoğan, then a member of the RP, became Istanbul mayor in the 1994 local elections after the tenure of Nurettin Sözen from the center-left Social Democratic People's Party (SHP). Sözen's term has been notoriously remembered by many inhabitants of Istanbul due to water shortages and problems in garbage collection.