The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) criticized that the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu met with the moderator Ismail Küçükkaya in a hotel two few days before his live televised debate with the AK Party candidate Binali Yıldırım.
Answering questions after footage showing Küçükkaya entering a hotel located in Taksim Square where Imamoğlu was holding a press conference, Yıldırım said Tuesday that it is an immoral situation and it is also a catastrophe keeping it secret from the public.
Yıldırım said that he spoke with Küçükkaya twice before the debate, first to congratulate him and second after Küçükkaya's meeting with Imamoğlu. He said that Küçükkaya did not offer him to meet although he met Imamoğlu, describing it unfair.
AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan described the situation as "inappropriate." "The meeting of Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ismail Küçükkaya in a hotel before the broadcast is inappropriate for whatever reason. They violated the format, principles and spirit of a historical broadcast that could contribute to our democratic culture. It is not ethical," said Turan.
AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Muhammet Emin Akbaşoğlu also slammed the meeting by describing it as "immoral theater."
Istanbul's top two mayoral candidates on Sunday sat down for a televised debate a week ahead of a rerun of polls in the Turkish megalopolis, home to some 16 million people. The debate between the People's Alliance candidate Yıldırım and the Nation Alliance candidate Imamoğlu at Istanbul's Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center started under the moderation of veteran journalist and TV presenter Küçükkaya.
Küçükkaya said Monday that he briefly met Imamoğlu for two or three minutes and later proceeded with a longer meeting his advisors regarding preparation for the debate. He added that he met with Yıldırım's press advisor at another hotel before meeting Imamoğlu's team.