The mayoral candidate of the Democrat Party (DP) has withdrawn from the June 23 redo election, and it remains unclear whether the party will support the Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu against the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) candidate Binali Yıldırım.
"After evaluations with our party organizations and administration, we decided not to participate in the redo elections for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality on June 23," DP leader Gültekin Uysal wrote on his Twitter account late Thursday.
Uysal did not elaborate whether the party will back İmamoğlu in the elections as expected by many pundits. The DP's Istanbul candidate Ersan Gökgöz received 22,544 votes in the elections.
As İmamoğlu had a 13,729-vote difference on March 31, even a small margin of votes has a great significance for both sides.
The Democratic Left Party's (DSP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Muammer Aydın, who received about 30,000 votes, also withdrew from the redo elections. However, contrary to expectations, DSP leader Önder Aksakal declared that they will not instruct its voter base to support any candidate in the elections. "The DSP cannot give support to a candidate, who is backed by the HDP [Peoples' Democratic Party], FETÖ [Gülenist Terror Group] members and Qandil," Aksakal said to a columnist of Yeni Şafak daily. The HDP, which is criticized for its close ties with the PKK terrorist organization, did not nominate a candidate and will instead support İmamoğlu in the elections.
During the process of determining municipal candidates, a number of candidates who were turned down by the CHP announced that they would run under the DSP banner, fueling the dispute. After the unexpected statement by the DSP leader, the CHP's plan to establish a broad coalition around İmamoğlu fizzled out.
Earlier this week, the conservative Felicity Party (SP) also decided to participate in the elections in Istanbul with its own candidate, Necdet Gökçınar, who received 103,000 votes in the March 31 polls.