Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has finally confirmed speculation that Turkey’s former prime minister and parliamentary speaker Binali Yildirim will be its mayoral candidate for Istanbul.
The announcement came as the party unveiled 74 mayoral candidates for the upcoming local government elections.
The announcement of the Istanbul mayoral candidates was made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Sinan Erdem Sports Complex.
Istanbul is one of the world’s great metropolises with population of 15 million packed into an area of 1539 square kilometres.
Erdogan also announced 39 AK Party mayoral candidates for various Istanbul districts.
Companion of 40 years
Erdogan, who last July awarded Yildirim the State Medal of Honour, praised Yildirim as being his trustworthy companion for the past 40 years.
“Our 40-year friendship with Binali Bey has survived many tests successfully. Our friendship becomes more riveted and strengthened through sharing joy and pain. Mr Binali has always been ready in a most speedy way in our most difficult times. He never left us in 40 years of companionship as some others did.”
Yildirim, who is the AK Party’s Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality mayoral candidate graduated from the Istanbul Technical University’s School of Naval Architecture and Maritime Engineering before serving as general director of the Istanbul ferry company İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri IDO, followed by stints as Turkey’s transport minister, presidential chief advisor, prime minister and finally parliamentary speaker.
Although Yıldırım is a confidant of Erdogan’s, his relationship with the president’s son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, has been less than cordial at times.
Erdogan twice delayed the announcement of Yıldırım’s candidacy due to disagreements between Erdogan’s family and that of Yıldırım over candidates for the various Istanbul districts.
Erdogan’s son Bilal also opposed Yıldırım’s candidacy for Istanbul’s top post.
Lots of talking before agreeing
Local media agreement of the list of candidates came only after lengthy negotiations between the two families.
“My father sent me to Istanbul to study higher education. I got my profession and became a father. I grow up in Kasimpasa district. I came here from the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. I will solve Kadikoy’s (a district in Istanbul) problems. Serving to Istanbul is serving to Turkey,” Yildirim said in his speech after Erdogan’s announcement.
“People’s Alliance” will continue
Erdogan reaffirmed an earlier that electoral alliance between the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), known as the People Alliance that was formed ahead of the June 24 presidential election earlier this year, will continue with the AK Party will supporting MHP candidates in Besiktas, Maltepe and Silivri districts of Istanbul.
The AK Party’s mayoral candidate for the capital city Ankara is Mehmet Ozhaseki, and for the country’s third largest city of Izmir, it is Nihat Zeybekci.
This is the list of AK Party’s Istanbul candidates announced by Erdoğan (districts followed by name):
Ataşehir – İsmail Erdem
Arnavutköy – Ahmet Haşim Baltacı
Adalar – Öztekin Vural
Avcılar – İbrahim Ulusoy
Bağcılar – Lokman Çağrıcı
Bakırköy – Mehmet Umur
Bahçelievler – Hakan Bahadır
Başakşehir – Yasin Kartoğlu
Bayrampaşa – Atila Aydıner
Beykoz – Murat Aydın
Beylikdüzü – Mustafa Necati Işık
Beyoğlu – Haydar Ali Yıldız
Büyükçekmece – Mevlüt Uysal
Çatalca – Mesut Üner
Çekmeköy – Ahmet Poyraz
Esenler – M. Tevfik Göksu
Esenyurt – Azmi Ekinci
Eyüpsultan – Deniz Köken
Fatih – Ergün Turan
Gaziosmanpaşa – Hasan Tahsin Usta
Güngören – Bünyamin Demir
Kadıköy – Özkan Özgül Yavuz
Kağıthane – Mevlüt Öztekin
Kartal – Ebubekir Taşyürek
Küçükçekmece – Temel Karadeniz
Pendik – Ahmet Cin
Sancaktepe – Şeyma Döğücü
Sarıyer – Salih Bayraktar
Sultanbeyli – Hüseyin Keskin
Sultangazi – Abdurrahman Dursun
Şile – İlhan Ocaklı
Tuzla – Şadi Yazıcı
Şişli – Nihal Yıldırım
Ümraniye – İsmet Yıldırım
Üsküdar – Hilmi Türkmen
Zeytinburnu – Ömer Arısoy
MHP candidates which AKP supports under the People’s Alliance:
Beşiktaş – Serkan Toper
Maltepe – Ahmet Baykan
Silivri – Volkan Yılmaz