Elections for Ankara already controversial after claims on Yavaş
Turkey’s municipal election slated for March 31 is seen as the final leg of a five-year long election campaign before a four-year pause to twin polls in 2023 to select the president and the 600-seat parliament.
The People’s Alliance, composed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), considers the local elections as a confidence vote to both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government and the executive-presidential system that entered into force following June 2018 elections.
They aim to win all metropoles and big constituencies and to preserve around 50 percent majority of votes so that the confidence vote would be secured.
The Nation Alliance, made by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good (İYİ) Party, is in efforts to capitalize the decline in the votes of the ruling party because of worsened economic conditions and to win metropoles and other big cities in order to give a strong blow the People’s Alliance.
Istanbul and Ankara are, therefore, the main battlefields of these elections as well as with İzmir, Bursa, Antalya, Adana and etc.
In Istanbul, People’s Alliance’s Binali Yıldırım seems confident that he will win elections despite the fact that his oppositional rival, Ekrem İmamoğlu give a very good performance. Public opinion surveys indicate that the difference between the two is three to four points to the advantage of Yıldırım with a prospect that he will likely win Turkey’s largest city.
In Ankara, however, the Nation Alliance’s Mansur Yavaş is believed to be well ahead of Mehmet Özhaseki, the People’s Alliance nominee for the capital city. Yavaş said he was eight to 11 points ahead of Özhaseki who on the other hand claim that he almost filled the gap with the Nation Alliance candidate.
What has changed the atmosphere in Ankara was a number of serious claims on Yavaş’s business ties with a person who had sued him over fraud, forgery and blackmail. The AKP spokesperson and Özhaseki called on Yavaş to provide accurate answers to all the claims against him while MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli asked CHP candidate to drop his nomination for Ankara.
At a press conference in the past week, Yavaş responded all the allegations, informing that the accuser was a person already sentenced over a number of crimes including fraud, forgery and child abuse. He slammed his rivals to resorting to this kind of non-ethical methods to stop his victory by claiming that he was the real victim of this process.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did also briefly touch on claims against Yavaş as he criticized the oppositional candidate for being involved in “shady business.”
Both Yavaş and the CHP, however, seem to refrain from fueling the tension by not responding to each and every claim by the AKP officials. They believe these claims strengthen the campaign of Yavaş who has been frequently recalling that his victory in 2014 local elections was hijacked by the AKP through a vote rigging.
AKP officials explain that they are making this judicial case an issue as the Ankara electorate needs to know about the shady business of the candidate represented by the opposition party. They also question why the CHP has chosen Yavaş as the Ankara candidate although they know about ongoing cases against him.
Yavaş and CHP, however, draw the attention to the fact that all these claims were brought to the agenda just days before the election and therefore that all these could take place as they see they are losing in Ankara.
The controversy is likely to continue until and after March 31 elections. There are claims that Yavaş may not be able to serve as the mayor of Ankara, if he is convicted. This tells a special emphasis needs to be devoted in following the elections for the Turkish capital in the coming days.