CHP vows to win Istanbul, Ankara in March 2019 polls
İpek Özbey - ANKARA
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has no doubt of a victory in the upcoming municipal elections in both Istanbul and Ankara, its chairman has said, vowing to change the faces of both cities for good at the end of the five-year mandate.
“Why should we lose [elections in Istanbul and Ankara]? We will win. We will do it all together. I never think the opposite,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with daily Hürriyet on Nov. 12.
“The CHP has shown how it is successful in local administrations,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
Turkey will go to local polls on March 31, 2019 and we will elect thousands of mayors, including 81 provinces and hundreds of districts. The main opposition is working hard to find the best candidates to win big cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Antalya, Mersin, Manisa, Balıkesir and Uşak.
In a comprehensive interview, Kılıçdaroğlu explained the CHP’s strategy and potential candidates for top cities.
Istanbul, with its population of 15 million, represents nearly one sixth of the entire electorate and therefore stands as the most important target of all political parties as the one “who wins Istanbul in fact wins Turkey.”
“We will accomplish the urban transformation process of Istanbul within the shortest time in accordance with scientific necessities. No one will be forced to leave their houses. Istanbul will be a city whose green spaces, social spaces and earthquake-resistant schools and hospitals will be built under a scientifically prepared plan where its forestry and water resources are protected,” said the CHP leader.
As a city that had served as the capital of three major civilizations, Istanbul deserves better protection of its historic buildings and of its centuries-old silhouette from unregulated high-rise construction, he underlined.
“We will unveil the historical background of the city with all its magnificence. Living in Istanbul will be a pleasure and no longer a trouble,” he said.
On a question of who might be the party’s candidate for Istanbul, Kılıçdaroğlu did not name any potential contender.
“I understand the curiosity over this. I also know that the palace is also very curious of our candidates. Because they see they are losing ground in big cities,” he said, stressing that the names of some candidates are already floating around.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district, has obviously gained Kılıçdaroğlu’s appreciation.
“Mr. Ekrem is a very successful mayor. He has turned Beylikdüzü into a modern city. He carried out a very scientific, planned modern urbanization program,” he said, adding he has provided municipal services to all different political groups by considering which party they voted for.
No opposition on Mansur Yavaş
Ankara is also very important for the CHP, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “We will win Ankara. Ankara’s identity will be enriched with its republican and modernization identities. Once a very small Anatolian village, Ankara is now a modern and giant city. This city has grown in the same line with our republic. We will build its identity on this,” he said.
On a question of whether the CHP is planning to form an alliance with the İYİ (Good) Party for the candidacy of Mansur Yavaş, who had run for Ankara in the 2014 polls on the CHP ticket, Kılıçdaroğlu said their idea was to form partnerships with the electorate from all walks of life, who believe they deserve to live in a better city.
“We will tell them, ‘If you want to live good in this city, you should vote for us.’ We will also tell them to visit Ankara districts under CHP mayors and to observe the changes through their own eyes. I want to emphasize that our approach does not separate ‘us and them.’ Everyone living in Ankara will win when the CHP candidate wins,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Contrary to speculations, there is no objection against the candidacy of Mansur Yavaş, he stressed.
“He is a person loved by our party fellows and Ankara people. We have no problem with his candidacy. The problem is how to run Ankara in an honest and clean way,” said the CHP leader.
One or two MPs may run for mayoral positions
With the CHP mulling over who would be the best candidates, it is known that some parliamentarians are hoping to be nominated for mayoral positions.
“In principle, I do not nominate MPs for municipal elections. There can be an exemption for one or two MPs. But we can do this. There are some districts in Istanbul where our votes are low. We can appoint some of our MPs for these districts. For example, Mahmut Tanal said he can run for the Sultanbeyli district,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.