Withjust a week left before the Istanbul mayoral elections rerun, all eyes will be on the live televised debate between the two mayoral candidates on Sunday evening.
Commenting on the upcoming debate, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the debate will give direction to the final week before the elections. He was speaking to reporters in Istanbul before departing for Tajikistan to attend Saturday's 5th Summit of the Heads of State of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
"Not only Istanbul, but all of Turkey will watch this debate. Istanbul is not a place that only concerns people living in Istanbul. It is like the summary of our 81 provinces," he said, and added that people all around Turkey will discuss the debate afterwards.
The debate will put ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and People's Alliance candidate Binali Yıldırım face to face with the Republican People's Party (CHP) and National Alliance candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.
The debate is expected to be watched by a huge audience and millions of constituents. It also embodies a crucial role in terms of its effects on the final results and possible outcomes. Taking into consideration that there is a slight difference between the candidates after the March 31 results, swing voters will play a vital role in these polls.
The undecided voters represent almost 5 percent of Istanbul's constituents, adding up to almost 1 million votes. In the light of these conditions, the TV debate and the candidates' performance there may likely have a profound effect on the results.
The Istanbul mayoral election on March 31 was annulled by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) on May 6 due to irregularities and unlawfulness. Nearly 8.5 million voters headed to the polls in Istanbul and a very close race took place between Yıldırım and İmamoğlu.
At the outset, İmamoğlu was awarded the mayoral mandate by the provincial election board with a very slim lead.
After appeals from the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), YSK Chairman Sadi Güven announced on April 1 that İmamoğlu's lead had fallen from an initial 28,000 votes to 13,729, which in turn paved the way for an election rerun.