AKP’s Zeybekci expects to win in İzmir polls
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Nihat Zeybekci, the People’s Alliance’s candidate for İzmir, a secular stronghold in Turkey’s Aegean region, has said he is only 2.5 percentage points behind main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Tunç Soyer, but expressed his confidence that he will win Turkey’s third largest city in the March 31 elections.
“İzmir will be the constituency which everybody will talk about and its result on the night of March 31,” Zeybekci told the Hürriyet Daily News on a visit to Demirören Media Center in Ankara on March 19.
Zeybekci, a former economy minister and mayor of nearby Denizli province, was appointed as the candidate for mayor of İzmir by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), dubbed the People’s Alliance, with hopes to end the CHP’s four consecutive term rule in the Aegean city.
Zeybekci said recent public opinion surveys indicate that his votes are around 47 percent, 13 percentage points higher than the sum of the votes the AKP and the MHP garnered together in the parliamentary elections in June 2018.
He is running against the CHP’s Tunç Soyer, currently the mayor of Seferihisar district of İzmir.
“Frankly, Tunç Soyer is the candidate of CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and not of the CHP,” he said, referring to an in-house resistance against the nomination of Soyer by Kılıçdaroğlu.
“In a survey in which respondents were asked: ‘Who would you like to see as mayor?’ I appeared two percentage points ahead. But the same survey which asked ‘Who will you vote for?’ showed that I am 2.5 percentage points behind. But I am very hopeful that this gap will be closed until the elections,” he added.
Despite its enormous potential, İzmir is far from offering a life quality for its 4.5 million residents due to poor management at the hands of CHP mayors, Zeybekci stated, informing that the city has the highest unemployment rate of 26 percent among all the 81 provinces in Turkey.
One major issue with regard to the elections in İzmir is to what extent lifestyles will be protected if a mayor from the ranks of the AKP, a conservative party founded on strong Islamic values, gets elected.
“I think oversimplifying the expectations and the needs of the people in İzmir by putting lifestyle differences forward are disrespect to them. There is no such question. The lifestyles of all our people are under our guarantee,” he said.
“The main issue is not lifestyles but life quality. The people I meet in İzmir are complaining about the lack of quality due to insufficient municipal services. They want better roads, better environment, better services and a clean city and a clean İzmir Gulf.”