Deputy PM dismisses chances of Şişli Mayor Sarigül running for CHP in Istanbul
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Mustafa Sarıgül, who still has a large support among Republican People's Party (CHP) base, founded Turkey Movement for Change (TDH) in 2010.Mustafa Sarıgül, the popular mayor of Istanbul’s Şişli district, will not run against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the upcoming local elections in Istanbul, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç hinted at on April 7.
Dismissing rumors that Sarigül is set to join the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in an attempt to win back Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from conservatives, Arınç said the chemistry would simply not work.
“As far as I know him, Sarıgül would not accept being a toy in the hands of impotent politicians. If he joins [the CHP], he would do it with his own style. If he wants to be a candidate, he would assess if he can win. And if he sees he can’t, and I don’t see much chance of him winning against the AKP either with his name or as the CHP’s candidate, he is not going to ruin his reputation,” he said.
Sarıgül won a second tenure as Şişli mayor from the ranks of the CHP in 2004. Soon after the 2004 local elections, however, he initiated a campaign to topple then-party leader Deniz Baykal, becoming a leadership candidate during a 2005 convention and the perceived flag bearer of progressive groups. The convention was ultimately marred by physical clashes between supporters of Baykal and Sarıgül, and the latter was expelled from the party on accusations of creating tension. Despite being increasingly isolated, Sarıgül won Şişli again in 2009, largely thanks to his own popularity, although he did run as the candidate for the Democratic Left Party (DSP).
Arınç nevertheless praised Sarıgül’s achievements since 1999 as mayor of one of Istanbul’s most vibrant districts, which is home to many business centers and many historical neighborhoods.
“He is someone liked and considered successful as mayor. He is respected thanks to his success in his personal relationships. But his task would be hard with the CHP because his future position in the party has its importance,” the deputy prime minister said.
Arınç emphasized that Sarıgül’s popularity with his new movement, dubbed the Turkey Movement for Change (TDH), had grown faster than CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s support. There has been concern that Sarıgül would usurp Kılıçdaroğlu’s place at the top of the CHP, meaning CHP members have 'shown obstinacy' over readmitting him to the party, Arınç said.
Arınç also said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who served four years as Istanbul mayor, has become identified with the city and that the AKP is unlikely to lose the metropolis.