Who will be the CHP’s mayoral candidate for İzmir?
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has entered a very critical week. This weekend, the mayoral candidate of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality along with its districts will be announced. Istanbul’s districts will also be finalized for the most part. Circles are talking about a list trending around Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu and the CHP’s Istanbul provincial organization.
Yet the critical link is the mayoral candidate for İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.
Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met with Narlıdere district’s mayor Abdül Batur, who is one of the top contenders for İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, on Jan. 18. “We have conducted an efficient meeting with the chairman,” Abdül Batur said in a statement he made after the meeting. During the meeting, Narlıdere Mayor Abdül Batur informed Kılıçdaroğlu about his projects on İzmir. The CHP leader listened with interest. At the end of the meeting, Abdül Batur said he will work with Aziz Kocaoğlu, İzmir Metropolitan Municipality’s current mayor, on the field. In response, Kılıçdaroğlu asked Batur whether or not he can persuade Kocaoğlu. Abdül Batur said that he can persuade him. Kılıçdaroğlu asked, once again, whether Batur can persuade Kocaoğlu. When getting the same “I will persuade him” response, Kılıçdaroğlu took his note, satisfied with the answer.
This dialogue does not mean that Abdül Batur will be nominated as the mayor of İzmir. Nevertheless, it means that Abdül Batur is one of the names that are considered and that Kılıçdaroğlu pays attention to the Kocaoğlu factor.
The Kılıçdaroğlu-Kocaoğlu dialogue
Kocaoğlu had turned everything upside down when he met with Kılıçdaroğlu before the party meeting on Jan. 17, the day which he thought the mayoral candidate of İzmir would be announced. After receiving some news about Tunç Soyer, the mayor of Seferihisar, to be introduced as the mayoral candidate of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, with his move, Kocaoğlu had prevented the issuing of the decision from the party meeting on Jan. 17.
At the beginning of the tense meeting, Kocaoğlu said: “If you are considering a name, let’s talk about it.” Kılıçdaroğlu responded: “There is nothing right now, we are evaluating.” Kocaoğlu said he is up for candidacy after giving his reasons, which are also reflected to the public. Because Kocaoğlu had announced that he will not become a candidate on Oct. 1, 2018. Hereon, Kılıçdaroğlu said “A new scene has appeared; I need to evaluate this with friends. When leaving the meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu, the following dialogue took place:
-Do you have anything to say to me?
-I am up for being the candidate.
-If so, you can be a candidate for nomination.
Kocaoğlu then announced his candidacy for İzmir.
This way, Kocaoglu prevented the announcement of Soyer’s candidacy with his move. However, according to the impression I got off from sources close to the CHP, Kocaoğlu only delayed the announcement because Kılıçdaroğlu had not just determined the mayoral candidates for metropolitan municipalities such as Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara, within this period, he had determined the candidates beforehand in his mind. He introduced Mansur Yavaş as a candidate despite the objections of a group within the party. It is said that he signaled Ekrem İmamoğlu for preparation in August. I can say the same things for Zeydan Karalar for the southern provinces of Adana, Muhittin Böcek for Antalya, Vahap Seçer for Mersin and Mustafa Bozbey for the western province of Bursa. Sources say that Kılıçdaroğlu had determined Soyer for İzmir before, and what was left was only the announcement.
Hints pointing toward Kılıçdaroğlu’s strategy for the local elections can be listed down as follows:
Gathering the “No” voters from the April 16, 2017 constitutional referendum.
Allying with İYİ (Good) Party and Saadet (Felicity) Party (SP). He achieved the alliance with İYİ Party and established a “close contact” with SP.
He nominated candidates that can receive votes from the conservative electorate. He actualized this strategy to a great extent in determination of candidates. I find comments that the CHP has entered crisis for leaving its candidate announcement for İzmir — where it is the strongest — to the last insufficient. Kılıçdaroğlu wanted to see what Kocaoğlu would do during this period of time. He has given the green light by putting forward Soyer in advance. Thus, he made sure Kocaoğlu, who got included into the process sternly, would announce his rerun. He made Kocaoğlu, who is a very important power for İzmir, to show his hand. We will see how this will reflect to the field, but, on the other hand, Kılıçdaroğlu has invalidated the Kocaoğlu factor.
Kılıçdaroğlu will attend the meeting for candidate introduction on Saturday Jan. 26, upon the invitation of Mustafa Bozbey, the mayoral candidate for Bursa Metropolitan Municipality. Therefore, the party meeting of the CHP will be held on Sunday Jan. 27. Sources say that Kılıçdaroğlu will say: “I need you in the headquarters” to Tuncay Özkan, the deputy chair whose work Kılıçdaroğlu is satisfied with and a candidate for nomination to İzmir Metropolitan Municipality. The mayoral candidate of the CHP for the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality will most likely be Soyer.