Who Will Compete for Istanbul? Binali Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu?

Kilicdaroglu is said to have decided the name for Istanbul: Ekrem Imamoglu – the current lead of Beylikduzu. Therefore, Aksener has not much to do with the candidate of Istanbul. According to Selvi, the race for Istanbul will be between Binali Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu.

Who Will Compete for Istanbul Binali Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) Leader Devlet Bahceli (L) shake hands as they pose for a photo during their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on November 21, 2018. Anadolu Agency

The heat of the upcoming critical local elections of 31 March, 2019, is getting warmer. The local elections are the most important item on the political agenda of Turkey nowadays after the international turmoil.

President Erdogan is expected to meet with Devlet Bahceli, head of the MHP, in order to continue the ‘People’s Alliance,’ which was formed in the last parliamentary and presidential elections held on June 24.

The former part of the deal between the AK Party and MHP is clear: in every province where the opposition parties form an alliance, there will be a common candidate under the People’s Alliance.

Both Erdogan and Bahceli will decide about the details of the union between the AK Party and MHP as well as finalizing ‘common candidates’ in certain cities. The former part of the deal is clear: in every province where the opposition parties form an alliance, there will be a common candidate under the People’s Alliance. For the latter part, according to Abdulkadir Selvi, a political journalist from Hurriyet daily newspaper, the deal between the two parties is “sealed” in Isparta and Kars and there is some “discomfort” in Adana and Mersin.

Speaking at his party’s meeting on Monday, Devlet Bahceli declared that if Binali Yildirim becomes candidate for Istanbul, the MHP will give him full support.

Last week some Turkish newspapers wrote about the details of the alliance and called it a “gesture model,” which is being described as both parties being “considerable” to their “sensitivities” in certain cities and districts. There are some rumors that there will be a change of candidates in Adana and Aydin. MHP has declared to support the AK Party’s candidates in Denizli and Erzurum, after recalling its candidates in these cities. This support is said to spread to other cities that are expected to be won by the AK Party. On the other hand, in 60 centers where the MHP won the local elections in 2014 and where they are still leading the polls, the AK Party is expected to support the MHP candidates. In three major cities – Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir – the MHP will not declare a candidate and will support the candidates of the AK Party.

Meanwhile, the leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, met with Iyi Party leader Meral Aksener a couple of times last week and are expected to meet again this week in order to finalize the negotiations on an alliance.

Kilicdaroglu is said to have decided the name for Istanbul: Ekrem Imamoglu – the current lead of Beylikduzu. Therefore, Aksener has not much to do with the candidate of Istanbul. According to Selvi, the race for Istanbul will be between Binali Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu.

The major issues between these two parties are the common candidates to be shown in Ankara and Istanbul. This is because there are certain obstacles as both parties are competing for the leading role in the opposition camp. Kilicdaroglu is said to have decided the name for Istanbul: Ekrem Imamoglu – the current lead of Beylikduzu. Therefore, Aksener has not much to do with the candidate of Istanbul. According to Selvi, the race for Istanbul will be between Binali Yildirim and Ekrem Imamoglu.

While the meetings between the opposition leaders have been ongoing, they have not yet reached the clarity that the AK Party and MHP have. The major differences on who will be common candidates in the important provinces will remain a problem. Aksener has already stated that “if we are leaving Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, and Mersin, then the two major cities – Ankara and Antalya – shall remain with us.”

Selahattin Emre Çelebi
Selahattin Emre Çelebi was born in 1979 in Kütahya. He received his BA at Bilkent University, Department of Political Science in 2002. Then he moved to California and attended a year-long program on marketing and advertising at UC Berkeley, and worked in various production companies for about three years. In 2006 he moved to Cairo to study Arabic. In 2007 he started his MA on the history of Middle East at the American University in Cairo. Upon completing his MA, he moved to Madrid, Spain in 2011 to research the intellectual history of Islam and the history of Andalusia. After conducting various research programs in Europe, he moved back to Cairo in August 2015. Since then he works as the director of the Yunus Emre Institute in Cairo.