Nationalist figure to run in Ankara bid for main opposition CHP

Nationalist figure to run in Ankara bid for main opposition CHP

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Nationalist figure to run in Ankara bid for main opposition CHP

Mansur Yavaş’s (R) possible candidacy has caused an uproar inside the CHP already with some deputies’ heavy criticism against the CHP administration. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will most likely nominate Mansur Yavaş, the former mayor of Ankara’s Beypazarı district from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), for the Ankara metropolitan mayor’s office in the March 2014 elections.

The CHP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) will approve the party membership of Yavaş this week, allowing the right-wing figure to be announced to the public as the CHP’s Ankara candidate after the CHP’s Party Assembly meeting on Dec. 22, sources from the CHP told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Yavaş, speaking at a morning news program on Fox TV earlier on the same day, said he had finalized his decision to become a candidate from the CHP.

As CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu repeatedly voiced his party’s willingness to nominate candidates who will get the most votes in the local elections even if they are not of CHP origin, the party has been searching for a candidate who will able to receive votes from the center-right in cities such as Ankara.

Accordingly, the CHP contacted Yavaş in October to convince him to become the party’s Ankara candidate in the upcoming local elections, but Yavaş rejected the proposal at the time.

Yavaş was elected as Beypazarı mayor twice in a row in 1999 and 2004 from the MHP, gaining popularity with not only MHP voters but others as well, mainly because of his success in turning Beypazarı into a tourism spot.

In 2009, he ran for Ankara Metropolitan Municipality but garnered only 27 percent of the vote to finish third. Still, the result was regarded as a great success for him since he increased the MHP’s votes from 2004 by 10 percent.

In October, Yavaş declared his willingness to run again for the MHP, but the party ruled out his candidacy, possibly due to his public criticism of leader Devlet Bahçeli in the past.

In a written statement released on Dec. 14, Yavaş accused the MHP administration of making “inexplicable efforts” for the re-election of current Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), citing a news report from Oct. 30 which claimed Gökçek and Bahçeli had secret talks before the MHP’s announcement of its Ankara candidate.

“That’s why we have taken into consideration the candidacy proposal by the CHP administration as an option along with my comrades and those who love me. We either remain silent to this plot and Ankara will be governed by the same administration for five more years, or we will take a step for Ankara,” Yavaş said.

Meanwhile, MHP Deputy Chair Semih Yalçın denied the Oct. 30 news reports that claimed Gökçek and Bahçeli had a secret meeting.

Nevertheless, not everybody within the CHP is pleased with Yavaş’s possible candidacy.

CHP deputy parliamentary group chair Muharrem İnce, who was among the names being discussed as the CHP’s Ankara mayoral candidate, voiced his disappointment over the CHP’s flirtation with a MHP-origin figure.

“A person who had criticized his party [MHP] for resembling the CHP is said to be considering becoming a candidate from the CHP. It’s a pity for our party. We cannot succeed with candidates who were not nominated by other parties,” İnce wrote on his Twitter account on Dec. 15.

CHP Istanbul deputy Sabahat Akkiraz also criticized Yavaş’s possible candidacy. “Being a conservative right-winger has become a precondition for being a candidate from the CHP, I reckon,” Akkiraz said, claiming that such a preference would result in a loss of Alevi votes in the elections.

Many Alevis remember the role members of the MHP played in the Maraş massacre of 1978, in which more than 100 people, most of whom were Alevis, were killed by right-wing mobs in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, CHP Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu said news reports over the CHP’s local election candidates were a matter of rumors. 

However, he said the CHP should “embrace” every segment of society, not just left-wing citizens.