CHP takes back Ankara municipality after 25 years
Mansur Yavaş, the candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and İYİ (Good) Party, has emerged as the winner of the March 31 local elections in Ankara, becoming the capital city’s new mayor, with nearly two percentage points ahead of his rival, according to unofficial figures. The CHP has ousted the ruling party from the post after 25 years, with 49.75 percent of the ballots.
Mehmet Özhaseki, the candidate of the People’s Alliance, between the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Ankara since 1994, received nearly 47.76 percent of the votes.
All eyes were on Ankara, along with Istanbul, İzmir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana, during the local elections, having become a tight race and an intense battlefield during the election campaign.
The Nation Alliance’s candidate, Yavaş was running for the third time for the capital’s municipality. In 2009, he competed from the ranks of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), when it wasn’t an ally of the AKP. In 2014, as the candidate of the CHP, he raced against the ruling party’s then-mayor Melih Gökçek, but lost amid claims of election fraud.
Yavaş has experience running Ankara’s local administration in Beypazarı district, where he was born and raised. He served for the district as its mayor twice between 1999 and 2009, making Beypazarı a tourist destination.
Özhaseki has served five terms in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri and also previously as environment and urban planning minister in the previous cabinet.
But Özhaseki was unpopular throughout the election campaign for he had no experience in running a municipality in Ankara and is not a local of the capital city. Yavaş is well-known in Ankara for his determination in previous elections.
Yavaş’s victory comes amid allegations against him that he was involved in misconduct when he worked as a lawyer a decade ago.
An Ankara prosecutor prepared an indictment against him on charges of fraud and forgery only weeks before the local elections. Yavaş denies all the accusations against him and said the defendant who filed the complaint against him was already being prosecuted on charges of forgery, fraud and child abuse.
Yavaş says the allegations came only after the AKP started feeling fear of losing the capital city.
“We will not hand Ankara over to a random person, to someone who forged signatures on checks. We want Ankara to continue to be governed by good people,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 20, raising questions on whether Yavaş will actually be able to serve post-election period as mayor of Ankara if he gets convicted.
The AKP has obtained victory in 18 districts out of 25 in Ankara, while in the previous local elections in 2014, it won 21 districts.
As the AKP left some provinces to the MHP, as part of their “Nation’s Alliance,” the ruling party has lost a total of three districts in the elections, one to its ally.
Meanwhile, the CHP won landslide victories in Haymana and Elmadağ districts, in addition to its strongholds Çankaya and Yenimahalle. The MHP won the districts of Gölbaşı, Etimesgut and Polatlı in the capital.
Residents in the districts on the outskirts of Ankara, namely Altındağ, Bala and Çubuk, have voted for the ruling party as they have always done in the past.
The AKP entered the election race in Ankara for the first time without its long-serving mayor Gökçek, who did not take part in the contest for the first time since 1994. After his long-term tenure in Ankara, Gökçek was forced to resign in 2017 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who had warned his party members against “metal fatigue,” calling for renewal in local governments.