The process to determine mayoral candidates for the March 31 local elections continues to spiral out of control for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) which is dealing with ongoing intraparty brawls.
CHP's Istanbul Deputy Gürsel Tekin stated that in the process of determining candidates, the party's principles were put aside while personal affiliations were put forward. Tekin claimed that different criteria and standards were set for each polling district.
In a written statement, Tekin noted that the mayoral candidates were not determined by considering objective criteria, stressing that the names who found the most support in public were not presented to run for the elections.
Previously, the veteran party member announced his intention of becoming a candidate for mayor of Istanbul, yet the party nominated Istanbul's Beylikdüzü district mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
Sixteen more party members, including the CHP's Istanbul Maltepe district head Engin Özkan and CHP Secretary-General Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi, as well as several current mayors, who have not been re-nominated for the upcoming local elections, have also left their posts, claiming that the CHP administration ignored their opinions in the candidate selection process.
Media reports claimed that Hamzaçebi resigned on Thursday night after his opinions on candidates were disregarded. Hamzaçebi reportedly voiced his opposition of the candidates in Küçükçekmece, Ataşehir, Maltepe and Kadıköy to party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Reports said that the candidacy of Ali Kılıç for Maltepe Municipality played a big role behind his resignation. Hamzaçebi reportedly rejected Kılıç's candidacy due to corruption rumors involving him and instead backed Ercan Köymen as the candidate. In order to diffuse recent tensions, Kılıçdaroğlu monopolized the decision-making mechanism to nominate candidates in the remaining provinces and districts, but this move has only covered the cracks on the surface.
In the shadow of the resignations, Kılıçdaroğlu was expected to appoint one of the party caucus members to the secretariat-general office which had fallen vacant after Hamzaçebi's resignation during yesterday's Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting.
Reportedly, CHP Ankara Deputies Tekin Bingöl and Haluk Koç and Istanbul Deputy Erdoğan Toprak were the names who came up for this post. However, Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to grant authorization to sign to one of the current central executive board members rather than making an appointment to the vacant position.
Sunday's candidate presentation meeting was also shaken with the disputable candidacy of Mehmet Fatih Bucak for Şanlıurfa's Siverek district. During the introduction of the party's Şanlıurfa candidates to the public, Bucak's name was not announced, causing talk on the possible withdrawal from the candidature.
Yet, according to the Milliyet daily yesterday, a withdrawal is out of the question, claiming Bucak did not attend the ceremony as he had an urgent excuse. Bucak previously applied for candidacy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) but resigned when the MHP did not nominate a candidate in Şanlıurfa, as part of its strategy under the People's Alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Stating Bucak's menacing words against other mayoral candidates as a reason, Özgür Özel, the CHP's group vice chairman, fiercely criticized him on Sunday, saying he disapproves of the candidacy of Bucak.
Refuting the criticism directed against his candidacy, Bucak noted Sunday that his statements against his competitors were misinterpreted. On the other hand, Bahattin Kuşoğlu, who resigned from the CHP last year and decided to join the ranks of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), said yesterday that the CHP has been going through difficult days due to the party administration's "reckless attitude" while determining candidates.