New polemic between Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu
A new discussion has emerged between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. I don’t mean that a new debate has formed as if Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu never argue. Starting from the queues people had to wait in at Social Insurance Institution (SSK) hospitals, when Kılıçdaroğlu was running them in the 1990s, the pair has had quarrels over almost all topics. I guess they only agree on the fact that Ankara is the capital city.
The new discussion’s fuse was lighted by Kılıçdaroğlu. He attacked Erdoğan, an elected president, grossly by saying, “You are not legitimate.” As if this was not enough, he also said, “You are not my president” [to Erdoğan]. Erdoğan responded to Kılıçdaroğlu with the same vehemence and said, “I am not interested in being your president.” Erdoğan must have been quite angry with allegations of illegitimacy such that yesterday, at a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) event to introduce the mayoral candidates of Ankara’s districts, he called out Kılıçdaroğlu as “not legitimate.” Thus, the discussion became a new item on our agendas.
As you might remember, when Özal became president, a lieutenant called Murat Şeref Baba had sent a telegram with the note “I have not got used to it.” Özal, the civilian president of Turkey, came to office after Celal Bayar — the president who was overthrown with the 1960 coup d’état. He started the “civilian president” tradition by acceding to Çankaya, which was seen as a next step for coup d’état leaders or generals. Yet those who deem presidency to coup d’etat leaders could not get used to Özal. Just like how they do not want to accept Erdoğan.
Erdoğan’s response to the legitimacy debate Kılıçdaroğlu had sparked has been rough. “Mr. Kemal, first, you should question the legitimacy in your party. Even your deputy chairmen are critical against you. Where in the world can you find a main opposition party that has lost nine consecutive elections and made no headway? You are not legitimate,” he said.
Thus, another issue became clearer. Apparently, Erdoğan will conduct his election campaign around Kılıçdaroğlu.
Bozkurt and Rabia signs
On the first day of the New Year, I watched the AKP’s event unveiling the names of the mayoral candidates for Ankara’s districts. I will share my impressions from the hall and observations on the candidates. But firstly I want to share my notes on Erdoğan’s speech.
In Istanbul, three mayoral candidates out of 39 and in Ankara, again, three mayoral candidates out of 25 were chosen from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The districts of Polatlı and Etimesgut were the MHP’s municipalities. Gölbaşı, where Fatih Duruay from the AKP, is the mayor, is now represented by Ramazan Şimşek, a candidate from the MHP. Despite Istanbul, the MHP has an effect on Ankara. In the June 24, 2018 elections, the MHP received 13.1 percent of the votes. In the hall, there were party members doing the Bozkurt sign with one hand and the Rabia sign with the other. That is why, one of the places where the People’s Alliance will be felt the most will be Ankara. Erdoğan must have understood this such that he addressed the enthusiastic youth who filled the hall by saying, “We are going to have a record percentage of votes in the March 31 elections.” Because Mansur Yavaş is a strong candidate for Ankara, the AKP’s victory is debated. But Erdoğan is not at that point. Don’t quote me on this but Erdoğan has his eyes on the two municipalities of the CHP in Ankara: Çankaya and Yenimahalle. He made party members promise to win those districts.
The CHP acted smart by announcing its mayoral candidates early, before letting both successful mayors get exhausted. A successful mayor, Alper Taşdelen, will compete against the AKP’s female candidate, Amber Türkmen, for Çankaya district. I have to say that Taşdelen is Çankaya residents’ favorite mayor. On the other hand, the district of Yenimahalle will be the stage for a pitched battle. Yenimahalle’s mayor, Fethi Yaşar from the CHP, is held dearly. The AKP presented Veysel Tiryaki as its candidate, who has been Altındağ’s successful mayor but who had to be presented as a candidate elsewhere due to the three-term limit. While watching the introductory event of the AKP’s candidates, Mustafa Tuna, who became Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s mayor for a short time following the previous mayor Melih Gökçek’s resignation, drew my attention. Tuna endeared others in a very short period of time.
As for Mehmet Özhaseki, he is the one to have achieved many things, from being the mayor of Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality to being the environment and urban planning minister. Tomorrow, he will announce his projects for Ankara.
Keep in mind, as it has been the case in Istanbul, Erdoğan will carry out the election campaign in Ankara, too.