The rise of Imamoglu as a new generation politician
As these were local elections – although in the form of general elections - the profile of candidates represented by the parties mattered to a large extent, particularly in large metropolises. CHP chair Kemal Kilicdaroglu preferred to nominate Imamoglu for Istanbul, Tunç Soyer for
Izmir, Mansur Yavas for Ankara, Muhittin Bocek for Antalya and Zeydan Karalar for Adana. One mutual characteristic of all these men is the fact that they were the mayors of a district in their respective provinces and are well-known for the success in their own cities. Imamoglu,
Yavaş and Karalar are not standard social democratic figures. They have bonds and dialogue with different political party groups in their constituencies. The AKP’s nominations for these cities were different. The AKP presented a former prime minister and former parliament speaker, Binali Yildirim, for Istanbul, former Urbanization Minister Mehmet Ozhaseki for Ankara and former Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci for Izmir. In other words, while the CHP was in efforts to introduce new, young and dynamic names, the AKP preferred to use its strongmen who are already severely exhausted. As a matter of fact, Kilicdaroglu took a risk by placing Imamoglu against Yildirim. His critics were suggesting that although Imamoglu has had a good reputation in Beylikduzu district since
2014, he was unknown to the rest of the 10 million residents of Istanbul. It was, of course, Imamoglu’s advantage that he was presented as the candidate of an alliance which was supported by the voters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). But it was his ability to reach out to all these groups and communicate with them in an orderly way so that they would all together go to cast their votes on March 31. He does not look like any other elitist social democrat politician. He seems to have a very good opportunity to strengthen his image in all of Turkey as a new generation politician and to move forward in his career if he can be a successful mayor to Istanbul.