Saga ends as Şişli Mayor Sarıgül officially declared main opposition’s Istanbul mayoral candidate
Mustafa Sarıgül returned to CHP in style after being declared persona non grata and expulsed from the party in 2005 for running against the then-leader Deniz Baykal. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe uncertainty on the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul mayoral candidate in the March 2014 local elections ended Dec. 22 as it was officially announced that the current mayor of the vibrant Şişli district, Mustafa Sarıgül, would contest Kadir Topbaş’ succession at the helm of the metropolis.
Sarıgül was chosen by CHP’s assembly meeting over other candidates, including deputy chair and former head of the party’s Istanbul province branch Gürsel Tekin during a voting session in the evening hours of Dec. 22.
By declaring what had been obvious for several months, particularly with Sarıgül’s return to his former party after his controversial expulsion in 2005, CHP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) confirm the name of the man considered by many as the only figure who could possibly rival the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Topbaş for winning a third term.
Unlike many of CHP’s prominent figures, Sarıgül’s conciliatory tone and efforts to encompass the AKP’s electorate in his speech are seen as his biggest assets increasing his options to beat the AKP. However, he will face the threat of losing the left votes as the recently-founded People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has officially named the popular moviemaker turned-politician Sırrı Süreyya Önder as its Istanbul candidate.
Önder became one of the icons of the Gezi protests that rocked Istanbul before spreading across Turkey from May to July after he stopped the bulldozers from cutting down trees in one of the Taksim areas’ few remaining green spaces.
CHP also confirmed the selection of the candidate with nationalist roots, Mansur Yavaş, to challenge Ankara’s controversial, yet perennial Mayor Melih Gökçek to round off his tenure to a quarter of a century.
Yavaş, the former mayor of Ankara’s Beypazarı district from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is seen as a reflection of the CHP’s March 2014 election policy of nominating candidates who will get the most votes, even if they are not social-democrat.
He was elected as Beypazarı mayor twice in a row in 1999 and 2004 from the MHP, gaining popularity mainly because of his success in turning Beypazarı into a popular tourism spot.