CHP names surprise mayoral candidate for stronghold İzmir

Published 28.01.2019 00:25

The Republican People's Party (CHP) yesterday submitted the name of İzmir's Seferihisar district mayor to the party's Central Executive Board (MYK) as a likely mayoral candidate for İzmir municipality in an unexpected move.

After a long process to determine the candidate for the March 31 local elections, which had caused discomfort for some party members, the party nominated Tunç Soyer to compete in İzmir, a CHP stronghold since 2004.

Soyer graduated from a law faculty and had been engaged in various professions, including as an educator and tourism entrepreneur, and became mayor of the Seferihisar district in the 2009 local elections. Since then, he has been mayor of the district.

He also pioneered in bringing the Cittaslow movement to Turkey, an international municipal association to improve the quality of urban life and the overall wellbeing of urban-dwellers though cultural preservation and healthy lifestyle initiatives. The nomination for İzmir's mayoral candidate from the CHP had turned into a complex situation, with no name coming to the fore with just two months left until the election. With no apparent candidate determined, Aziz Kocaoğlu, the CHP's serving İzmir mayor, announced earlier this month that he would rerun for the position in the local elections, despite previously announcing that he would not.

Soyer will be supported by his party as well as the CHP's partner in the Nation Alliance, the far right Good Party (İP).

The two parties have been signaling that they will continue the Nation Alliance formed for last year's June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections with the conservative Felicity Party (SP) and center-right Democrat Party (DP) to appeal to the other voter bases. The alliance, though, suffered a defeat in the elections, receiving 33.9 percent of the votes.

Alliance talks for the March 31 local elections also entered the spotlight with numerous discussions and objections from party organizations. Some local party organizations protested the administration for not consulting them for alliance negotiations concerning their provinces.

Most recently, Fethiye District Mayor Behçet Saatcı, whose name came to the fore as the Muğla provincial mayor candidate for İP, conveyed yesterday his discomfort over the decision of the party administrations on Muğla on his official social media account. Saatcı underscored the administration should fix this, and if not, he will present his candidacy using other means.

Previously, the CHP and İP decided to cooperate in Muğla province. Accordingly, the İP will not nominate a candidate in the province in support of the CHP, while both parties will field their own candidates in districts in Muğla.

Also, some pundits asserted that the İP is left with provinces where the party has little chance of winning elections in the alliance talks with the CHP. As the İP announced on Saturday its mayoral candidates in 166 municipalities, including 5 metropolitan and 8 provinces, many believe that the İP was tricked in the alliance talks with the CHP due to the slight possibility of winning in provinces determined in line with the negotiations.

According to the details of the alliance on Friday, the two parties agreed to cooperate in 49 provinces, 22 of which are metropolitan municipalities. The CHP will not field mayoral candidates in 21 provinces, including Manisa, Balıkesir, Denizli, Samsun, Trabzon and Kayseri, where the İP has a low percentage of votes compared to the votes of the People's Alliance formed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

In Manisa, for instance, the People's Alliance gathered 51.7 percent of the votes in the June 24 elections compared to 39.9 percent of the votes for the Nation Alliance between the two parties, left to the İP candidate. The CHP also decided to not nominate a candidate and support İP in Balıkesir province. İP's chance of winning Balıkesir is also regarded as low since the province is currently administered by the AK Party. Gaziantep is another example of futile provinces given to İP, where the Nation Alliance had 21.8 percent of the votes in the June 24 elections.

Mersin, on the other hand, has been coming to the fore as the election district where the İP has the strongest voter base. Thus, the CHP was expected to support the İP in Mersin, yet, the CHP opted to field its own candidate in the province.

The CHP also did not give up provinces administered by its party organization for the İP. During the negotiations, the İP reportedly emphasized provinces with MHP municipalities; as a result, the CHP decided to support İP mayoral candidates in Manisa, Osmaniye and Isparta provinces.

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