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Islamist opposition senior slams AKP’s Istanbul candidate eyeing to win conservative votes

A senior from the opposition Felicity Party (SP) lashed out at the mayoral candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who called for SP supporters to vote in favor of AKP in the upcoming Istanbul poll rerun on June 24, T24 news portal reported on Thursday.

Ali Aktas, an SP executive, criticized Binali Yildirim, Istanbul’s mayoral candidate from AKP, as he said on Wednesday that he believed many SP followers would vote for him [Yildirim] in the rerun election in Istanbul.

“SP people are not for sale, as they have dignity. They will never vote for you [AKP], like you, prior to the March 31 [elections], called them dishonored, pro-terror, and traitors,” Aktas vowed.

Ahead of the previous March 31 local elections, AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly accused opposition parties of being pro-terror and of being supported by terrorist groups. He used the defamatory statement “alliance of dishonor” to denounce the Nation Alliance, which was formed by opposition parties, including SP, to run in the elections against AKP.

Aktas further claimed that SP people would not consent to the “extortion of election” in Istanbul, referring to the annulment decision of March’s mayoral vote taken by Turkey’s election board on May 6.

The March 31 local Istanbul elections gave victory to Ekrem Imamoglu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), ending a 25-year rule by AKP and its Islamist predecessors from which SP also comes.

However, following the AKP appeals, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) annulled the Istanbul poll, citing a series of irregularities, notably in the appointment of polling station officials.

The YSK’s move drew rebuff among opposition parties. As before, many of them, except for SP, will support Imamoglu. SP will run in the rerun elections with its own candidate, Necdet Gokcinar.

SP a crucial actor in the rerun

Both AKP and SP originated from the “National Vision” ideology created by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the first political leader of modern-day Turkish Islamist.

Once the followers of the ideology, the founders of AKP – Erdogan, former President Abdullah Gul, and Bulent Arinc – left Erbakan and launched AKP in the early 2000s.

As they have the same Islamist roots, both parties will be competing for votes from conservative voters.

The SP candidate won over 103,364 votes in Istanbul on March 31. The SP voters may prove to be crucial in the rerun when considering only 13,000 votes separated CHP’s Imamoglu from AKP’s Yildirim in the previous annulled elections.

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