Election rumors for Istanbul and Ankara
An election atmosphere has started to be felt across Turkey.
Those who want to be mayoral candidates have already started to work. Istanbul and Ankara will undoubtedly be under particular spotlight during the local elections in 2019.
But this does not mean that other provinces like İzmir, Adana, Antalya or Balıkesir are not important. Local elections will play a crucial role in giving us an insight into what may happen in the 2019 presidential elections. All political parties will act in accordance with the “one vote matters” principle.
There are rumors that a significant number of deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will stand as candidates for mayoral positions in the local elections.
On the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) side, there are rumors that Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and several ministers will run for mayoral posts.
The fact that in the 2017 April referendum the “No” votes triumphed gave hope to the opposition. All parties, of course, need to work hard especially for Istanbul, but it is important not to compare the referendum to the local elections.
When I asked CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu whether they determined their candidate for Istanbul yet, he told me they have a few candidates and they were working on it.
Gürsel Tekin, Akif Hamzaçebi, Engin Altay and Ekrem İmamoğlu are seen among candidates that will most likely enter the race for Istanbul mayor from the CHP.
İlhan Kesici is also seen as a potential Istanbul mayor candidate even though his name is also seen among the candidates that may run in the presidential elections.
Istanbul’s districts are of crucial importance. The AKP has been carrying out meticulous works in the districts and it seems like it will continue with successful mayors.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Sarıgül has already rolled up his sleeves for the Şişli district of Istanbul by setting up a team of 700 people. He has been knocking on people’s doors trying to canvass their support. He has even been carrying out a detailed work based on the demographic structure of Şişli.
From the AKP, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım seems like he’s leading in the polls for Istanbul mayor.
I am not sure how Yıldırım would react to this, but the name of Kadir Topbaş, a former Istanbul mayor, is also seen in the polls.
Current mayor Mevlüt Uysal and some district mayors are also seen among the possible candidates.
There is no doubt that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will follow the strategy that “winning Istanbul means winning Turkey,” as he once said, “losing Istanbul means losing Turkey.”
One of the most important questions for Istanbul and Ankara is whether Uysal and Mustafa Tuna will be nominated. It is certain that Erdoğan will choose the candidates who will most likely win. The advantage of the AKP in the local elections is ministers. Yıldırım is seen as a likely candidate for Istanbul and some ministers are seen as potential candidates for Ankara.
I do not want to stir speculations, but Ali Babacan, Jülide Sarıeroğlu and Süleyman Soylu are said to be among possible candidates, too.
On the CHP’s side, Mansur Yavaş is back on the agenda again. Indeed, Kılıçdaroğlu confirmed that the negotiations continue regarding this issue. However, Levent Gök and Muharrem İnce are also important names for Ankara.
Gök recently said he is “ready to take responsibilities to be the mayor of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality.”
The election race in Istanbul and Ankara will be between the AKP and the CHP. What I can say for now is that the latest poll in Istanbul has relieved the AKP.
But the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Istanbul is also of critical importance. How much of the HDP’s votes will go to the CHP? How much will the AKP be able to get from the HDP?
The Felicity Party (SP) was important for the AKP until now, but it is important for the CHP for this election.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) can be the key party in Ankara. We also have the İYİ (Good) Party as a new actor in Turkey’s political scene. It will be the first election test İYİ Party chair Meral Akşener will undergo.
The local elections will also test the AKP-MHP alliance. Erdoğan thinks that “the alliance of the likeminded” will be possible for the local elections. The opposition actually needs an alliance for the local elections. The opposition may not realize this, but the local elections will be a rehearsal for the presidential elections in 2019.