Winning most of the municipal posts, particularly Istanbul and Ankara, has become an existential issue for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. If failing to win Ankara and Istanbul municipal posts and most of the other major cities might endanger the future of the executive presidential system, and if the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) election support was required to defuse such a threat, was it not obvious that the “people’s Alliance” that was said to have “collapsed” would be somehow revived?
That was what happened when President Erdoğan met with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli met last week. As if it was the same two politicians who declared just a month ago that they decided to go their separate ways at the local elections, boasted about the merits of being allies for the future of the presidential system and the country. If coming to power and consolidating power with the belief a party or individual is best fit for the wellbeing of the nation and the country is more or less what politics require, who could accuse the president and Bahçeli of joining their electoral strength to consolidate their brainchild executive presidential system.
In any case, reported progress between the “National Alliance” partners Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good Party (İYİ) particularly in nine major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara was compelling AKP and MHP to cooperate. Particularly if Ankara was a close race – discarding of course the widespread speculation that AKP’s Melih Gökçek lost the election but rigged the results – and in Istanbul there was only few points difference in favor of the victor AKP in the last election, there is the strong probability that collaborated CHP and the İYİ may win mayoral posts in both cities. Of course, besides collaboration of the two parties, finding proper and respectable personalities is needed for a victory. The two parties have been in such an effort “without preconditions” for some time, yet so far they could not come up with a “eureka” statement.
MHP will not be nominating candidates for Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. In which cities, apart Adana, Osmaniye, Mersin and probably Balıkesir the AKP will retaliate to that gesture by putting forward some placebo candidates will become in days ahead. AKP has not yet announced its candidate fir Istanbul, though it is widely expected that Parliament Speaker Binali Yıldırım will run for the biggest city of Turkey and already in talks with Erdoğan to identify candidates for the district mayoral posts of Istanbul. In İzmir former economy minister Nihat Zeybekci is announced by Erdoğan as AKP’s mayoral candidate. Can he succeed? As someone from Denizli and as a former minister he might not have much publicity problem. Yet, the city has been a stronghold of CHP and he will have to wage an uphill battle for victory.
In Ankara Erdoğan chose to nominate former Kayseri mayor, currently parliamentarian Mehmet Özhaseki. If he was running alone he probably would have no chance. Yet, it is claimed that Özhaseki’s name is whispered into Erdoğan’s ear by former mayor Gökçek who allegedly pledged to use all his influence for an electoral victory. Erdoğan would not want a Gökçek protégée at the prestigious Ankara mayoral seat, therefore probably those claims are just products of a speculative smearing campaign. Still if the CHP-İYİ alliance eventually choose Mansur Yavaş, a politician with MHP candidate who was CHP’s “failed” candidate in the last election, might put an end to conservative mayors in the capital which has been continuing since 1999.
Interesting times, as always. This country can never be boring.