Polls conducted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party point at Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, a colorful figure who had changed parties several times, for assertive Istanbul mayor seat
Şişli Mayor Mustafaf Sarıgül greets supporters of his Turkey Movement for Change organization in this file photo.
Mustafa Sarıgül, mayor of Istanbul’s Şişli district, could be announced as the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate for Istanbul mayor in 2014 local elections, the party’s leader has suggested in a move that could stir controversy.
Sarıgül has been leading every poll conducted by the party to determine local election candidates, CHP
leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
told a group of reporters and columnists at a dinner held in Istanbul recently.
“We are only four points behind the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] in Istanbul,” the CHP
leader stated, adding that they would welcome if Sarıgül joined the CHP.
Sarıgül is expected to join the CHP
in June, daily Cumhuriyet reported Feb. 22.
Party members are divided on Sarıgül’s possible candidacy for the Istanbul job, with one group considering the Şişli mayor to be the sole candidate capable of winning elections in the city, while the other has voiced concern because Sarıgül has yet to return to the CHP.
Some observers believe Sarıgül still hopes to run for the CHP
leadership and that he could launch a campaign for the party’s top job after the 2014 elections if he can succeed in winning the local elections.
Despite the possibility, Cumhuriyet reported that Kılıçdaroğlu was not concerned about his job safety and that he would instead nominate the strongest candidate to run in Istanbul.
Since Sarıgül is considered the only figure capable of winning Istanbul on a CHP
ticket, Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to invite the Şişli mayor to a party convention in June and announce him as the CHP’s Istanbul candidate, the daily reported.
Sarıgül, a member of the CHP’s youth organization before 1980, was a member of the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP) between 1987 and 1991. Since 1999, he has served as the popular mayor of Istanbul’s Şişli district for different parties, winning in 1999 for the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the CHP
in 2004. Before the 2009 elections, he returned to the DSP. After the 2004 local elections, Sarıgül initiated a campaign to topple the CHP’s then-leader, Deniz Baykal.
At a party convention held in 2005, where Sarıgül and Baykal both ran for leadership, Baykal won re-election as party leader. The convention was marred due to physical clashes between supporters of Baykal and Sarıgül. After the convention, Sarıgül was expelled from the party for creating tension at the assembly. Sarıgül sought the annulment of the decision, but the Supreme Court of Appeals approved the CHP’s move in 2007. Months after the 2009 local elections, Sarıgül resigned from the DSP to form his own organization, Turkey Movement for Change (TDH). Despite a one-year long campaign for TDH, Sarıgül canceled his plans to establish a new party after Kılıçdaroğlu was elected CHP
leader in May 2010. Sarıgül threw his support behind the CHP, saying Kılıçdaroğlu had “created a new hope.”