The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım has accepted a proposal for a live TV debate with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.
Speaking to local broadcaster Fox TV Monday, Yıldırım said he would willingly attend any debate with İmamoğlu on live TV. "They asked us and we said 'it could be,' he also said 'it could be.' The timing of this will be planned later. It does not matter which TV channel or program hosts them," he said.
"We will be in any place on any platform in any condition," Yıldırım said and added that his only condition is that the debate should be about Istanbul, not other issues.
Commenting on the Supreme Election Council's (YSK) decision on the cancellation and renewal of the Istanbul mayoral elections, Yıldırım said the AK Party spent a lot of effort for not renewing the elections.
"When we saw mistakes in the counting process, we demanded a recount. However, the CHP opposed it and our demand was rejected. We once again demanded it from the YSK and got rejected, too," Yıldırım said there was no other option to overcome the doubts over the elections.
Yıldırım had answered a question about the reasoning of cancellation decision with the words "because they stole," which has become a slogan among AK Party supporters since then. Commenting on this slogan, he said, "I had to do it because there was an ongoing perception operation. I am aware that it was not a legal expression. Voters in Istanbul were the biggest victims and as a candidate, I could not express myself."
Touching upon his victory speech during the election night before the counting process was completed, Yıldırım said he made this speech because he wanted to motivate the AK Party supporters working in ballot box committees.
"They said that more than 98 percent of votes were counted and the results will not be changed after that. Based on this information, I made the speech. If this is a mistake, it belongs to me," Yıldırım said.
The YSK decided to annul the March 31 mayoral elections in Istanbul due to irregularities and unlawfulness. The YSK's decision for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality elections came down to a vote of four members against and seven in favor on May 6. The renewed election will be held on June 23.
The mayoral elections in Istanbul witnessed a very close race between the People's Alliance candidate, Yıldırım, and the Nation Alliance candidate İmamoğlu.
Elections in Istanbul saw İmamoğlu being awarded the certificate of election with only a 13,729-vote difference.
The decision was followed by lengthy discussions and objections by parties demanding a do-over election due to irregularities and unlawfulness.
YILDIRIM PROPOSES SERIES OF PROJECTS FOR ISTANBUL
Yıldırım also mentioned his projects for Istanbul, saying that he will provide improved lighting and cameras for 70,000 streets. He said that motorcycles will be able to use the bridges without any payment charges and there will be 10% discount in natural gas prices.
He also reiterated the discounted transportation for students who are preparing for college as well as free sport activities for the youth.