Turkey’s AK Party faces internal mayor candidacy crisis over Istanbul

The rift between Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Parliament Speaker, Binali Yildirim, has come to light over Istanbul mayor candidacy.

Turkish media reports that Erdogan’s family is working towards preventing Yildirim from contesting the upcoming election at the end of March in 2019.

Ahmet Takan, advisor to previous Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, and a columnist at Turkish Daily, Yenicag, claims that Yildirim, also a former prime minister, is currently facing heavy pressure from Erdogan’s son, Bilal Erdogan, as well as from Berat Albayrak, Treasury and Finance Minister, and Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Yildirim has refused to budge from his stance on the mayoral candidates.

Takan continues to report that Yildirim feels smothered by pressure from Erdogan, also the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Erdogan has twice delayed releasing his Istanbul mayoral candidate, while his son, Bilal has waged forward in convincing his father towards a candidate he favours.

A recent election poll conducted by Erdogan ahead of the Istanbul Mayoral Elections concluded close vote differences between AKP and main opposition Republican Public Party (CHP).

Political rumours have placed Mevlut Uysal as favoured candidate to be announced by Erdogan as the latter wants neither Yildirim nor Interior Minister Suleyman Solu contesting towards becoming the future Istanbul Mayor.

However Uysal’s popularity is lacking compared to other possible candidates and might lead to Erdogan changing his mind over a future candidate.

The report by Takan states that while Yildirim, in general, agrees with Erdogan’s nominations, he would also welcome the opportunity to exert his authority in naming his preferred candidates for mayoral posts in other towns.

A crisis however continues to grow between the families of Yildirim and Erdogan over deciding city council seats with the former intent on making those decisions himself.

Political sources have claimed that Erdogan will not allow such decisions to be made by Yildirim alone and would rather have it decided together with his son, Bilal, and son-in-law, Albayrak.

Yildirim, however, would prefer to make such decisions with Erdogan himself, asserts Takan.

Takan summarises his claims as follows:  “Yildirim has a point in his fear in contesting for the mayor as recently Erdogan ousted former Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas. Why would Yildirim risk his political career asks Takan, all Erdogan would have to do to oust Yildirim from a future Istanbul mayor post is to call in a favour at the Istanbul municipality to not collect garbage, if this continues for 3 days, Yildirim would lose his post.”

Takan adds that Yildirim put more demands to re-establish honour in politics. If Erdogan welcomes Yildirim’s requests, present Parliament speaker would have full authority in Istanbul municipality, of course, when he wins the upcoming election.

Takan comments that although AKP spreads a mood of optimism, the candidacy crises continues to remain.

AKP has put a hold on its plans to release their nominations until their leader returns from the G-20 summit currently underway in Argentina.

In Turkish Politics, the Istanbul Mayor post is regarded as the biggest alternative leadership to the government in Ankara, as running one of the world’s biggest city is crucial to holding power in the country.

The power struggle between Erdogan’s and Yildirim’s families might play a role in shaping Turkish politics at the upcoming election.

(By Staff Writer)

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