Turkey's ruling AKP worried about new graft probes before local polls

Turkey's ruling AKP worried about new graft probes before local polls

Nuray BABACAN ANKARA - Hürriyet
Turkeys ruling AKP worried about new graft probes before local polls

The brother-in-law of ex-Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım, who is running for İzmir Mayorality, is reportedly sought as part of a fraud investigation. DHA photo

The Turkish ruling party is concerned that new corruption investigations could break after it officially named the candidates for the local elections, according to sources. 

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is concerned that new graft probes could hit the candidates that will run in the March 30, 2014 elections. 

Unnamed sources within the party claimed that they had heard rumors of new investigations targeting the potential candidates. 

The party was hit by a graft probe which became public after a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that it was part of an international conspiracy targeting his authority. Sons of two former ministers are among those under arrested as part of the ongoing probe. 

Rumors within AKP signal that the party is concerned that new bribery allegations could be made after Jan. 31, the deadline for declaring the candidates list to Turkey’s election watchdog, Supreme Election Board (YSK). 

According to the YSK regulations, parties will still be able to replace candidates until Feb. 20. Daily Hürriyet quoted unnamed sources within the party, saying that new probes could aim for a slump in the party’s votes in the local elections, which could lead to a failure in next year’s general elections. 
“A slip-up of one or two points in big cities [Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir] could lead to a vote slump all over Turkey,” a party member said. “The target is to influence the local election results and defamation. We are working to prevent it. But what we should do is to tell the public that those [graft probes] are political conspiracies.”

The AKP has assigned a group of people to spread word about the “conspiracy.” AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mahir Ünal is holding meetings with foreign press members explaining that they face “a political conspiracy targeted at the elected government.” A group led by Ünal will also go to European countries to meet Turkish associations and think tanks to relay the incidents from their perspective.