Elections for Ankara already controversial after claims on Yavas
The People’s Alliance, composed of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), considers the local elections a confidence vote on both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and the executive-presidential system that entered into force following June 2018 elections. They aim to win all metropolises and big constituencies and to preserve around a 50 percent majority of votes so that the confidence vote would be secured. The National Alliance, composed of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Good (IYI) Party, is in efforts to capitalize on the decline in votes of the ruling party because of worsened economic conditions and to win metropolises and other big cities in order to deliver a strong blow to the People’s Alliance. Istanbul and Ankara are, therefore, the main battlefields of these elections as well as Izmir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana. In Istanbul, the People’s Alliance’s Binali Yildirim seems confident that he will win elections despite the fact that his rival, Ekrem Imamoglu, has performed well. Public opinion surveys indicate that the difference between the two is three to four points to the advantage of Yildirim with a prospect that he will likely win Turkey’s largest city. In Ankara, however, the National Alliance’s Mansur Yavas is believed to be well ahead of Mehmet Ozhaseki, the People’s Alliance nominee for the capital city. Yavas said he was eight to 11 points ahead of Ozhaseki who, on the other hand, claims that he has almost filled the gap. What has changed the atmosphere in Ankara are a number of serious claims on Yavas’ business ties with a person who had sued him over fraud, forgery and blackmail. Both Yavas and the CHP, however, seem to refrain from fueling the tension by not responding to each and every claim by AKP officials. They believe these claims strengthen the campaign of Yavas, who has been frequently recalling that his victory in 2014 local elections was hijacked by the AKP through vote rigging. The controversy is likely to continue until and after March 31 elections. There are claims that Yavas may not be able to serve as the mayor of Ankara, if he is convicted.