CHP candidate’s Istanbul strategy

CHP candidate’s Istanbul strategy

There is no doubt that Ekrem İmamoğlu, the opposition’s mayoral candidate for Istanbul, owes an important part of his success in being a serious contender in the municipal elections to teamwork.

Some in that team are his long-time companions in his political journey. His press adviser, for instance, has been with him since his early days as mayor of the Istanbul district of Beylikdüzü. His relatively small team was obviously strengthened by the assistance brought by Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) provincial head, and her associates. His campaign is directed by a professional with a successful background in communications in politics.

But nobody seems to be more successful than ordinary citizens in bringing inspiration for campaign strategies as well as campaign slogans.

The motto “everything will be fine” belongs to a young boy called Berkay, who had approached İmamoğlu’s campaign bus in one rally shouting “everything will be fine.”

This has become as popular as the CHP’s motto for the local elections “With the end of March comes spring,” both inspiring hope.

İmamoğlu claimed victory, but his mayoral certificate was taken back as the Supreme Election Council (YSK) decided to rerun the elections for the greater municipality of Istanbul on June 23.

Listening to him on May 22 on the re-launch of his campaign, hope appears to remain one of the key pillars of his campaign strategy. Indeed, he needs to keep strong the hope that power can change hands in the country’s biggest city. Looking from his perspective, this is important for two reasons: He first needs to make sure that those who went to the ballot box for him do not fall into the despair that “no matter what happens the ruling coalition will find a way to stay in power.” Indeed the decision for redo elections made for reasons that have not convinced opposition supporters can lead to the feeling that it could be futile to go to the ballot box one more time since the governing coalition has, in their eyes, bended the rules to change the outcome.

He needs to keep hopes high among those who went to the ballot box and those who did not go voting. The participation ratio in neighborhoods like Beşiktaş, Şişli and Bakırköy — strongholds of the CHP — show that some CHP supporters have chosen not to vote. Their number is believed to be around 300,000. He needs to convince them that if they want change, there is no other way but to go to the ballot box.

Indeed, this was the message he underlined at the re-launch yesterday. He said that the opposition had to take it seriously and answer all the claims that would, under normal circumstances, be considered ridiculous. “We have to take it seriously and answer them. Because despite everything, we do not want the faith for law, democracy and elections to disappear. We don’t want anyone loosing hope from democracy and the ballot box; we want no one to resort to other ways. On June 23, we will show all of Turkey that there is no other remedy than democracy and the ballot box to protect democracy’s honor.”

Another pillar of Imamoğlu’s strategy will be based on the feeling of injustice. On that he will appeal also to the conscience of the supporters of the ruling coalition.

That part of the strategy is as well inspired by feedback from the streets since Imamoğlu has been coming across some supporters of the ruling party who admit he has been subjected to injustice.

“I know there are thousands of [Justice and Development Party] AK Party supporters who cannot accept this process. They have conscience, they come to me feeling very sad. But you are not the ones responsible of this injustice; let’s correct this big shame, big sin, this big injustice all together,” said İmamoğlu.

The spending of the municipality

Not only the “defensive,” but the “offensive” dimension of the strategy is also inspired from a man in the street. “I came across an uncle, who told me, ‘Son, finish this extravaganza system for God’s sake. Every problem comes from waste and those who are wasting money.’ We listen to people who write our strategies,” admitted İmamoğlu.

As the third pillar, İmamoğlu and his team will use the information they were able to get during the 18 days that they were able to stay in power over the budget spending by the previous administration. At a time when people are suffering from economic difficulties, İmamoğlu is counting on underlining that “everything will be fine,” if resources are better used and not wasted.

He claimed that with a smart and efficient management of the budget an additional 5 billion Turkish Liras could be generated, which will be earmarked for underprivileged families that will be provided free water, free milk and free bread.

Barçın Yinanç, istanbul polls,