Turkey: Who’s who in Sunday’s local polls

ANKARA

Millions of Turkish voters are getting ready for Sunday’s local elections, set to choose Turkey’s mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials), and members of elder councils for the next five years.

More than 57 million are expected to vote in 81 provinces, said the state’s top election authority.

Ballot boxes will also be set up in prisons.

More than 44 million citizens are expected to vote at 142,777 polling places in 30 biggest cities, called metropolitan municipalities.

Also, 12.8 million voters will vote at 51,851 polling places across 51 provinces in Turkey.

The voters will choose from 12 political parties competing in the local elections.

The major competing parties are the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Good (IYI) Party, and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Also taking part are the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), Grand Unity Party (BBP), Democrat Party (DP), Democratic Left Party (DSP), Saadet (Felicity) Party, Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), and Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

Alliances

Some political parties — including the ruling AK Party — announced alliances in some cities.

In the People’s Alliance (Cumhur Ittifaki), the AK Party and MHP agreed to support each other’s candidates in 30 metropolitan municipalities and 51 provinces.

The MHP named no mayoral candidates for 27 metropolitan municipalities, while the AK Party named no candidates for mayor of three metropolitan municipalities — Adana, Mersin and Manisa — and are instead supporting each other’s candidates.

The MHP agreed to support AK Party candidates in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Aydin, Balikesir, Bursa, Denizli, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Mardin, Mugla, Ordu, Sakarya, Samsun, Sanliurfa, Tekirdag, Trabzon, Van, Rize, Agri, Artvin, Bilecik, Bitlis, Bolu, Burdur, Canakkale, Edirne, Giresun, Hakkari, Mus, Siirt, Sinop, Sirnak, Ardahan and Yalova.

The AK Party will support MHP candidates in Igdir, Kars, Kirklareli, Adana, Manisa, Mersin, and Osmaniye.

The opposition has formed the The Nation’s Alliance (Millet Ittifaki), which brings the CHP and IYI Party together to support each other’s candidates in 22 out of 30 metropolitan municipalities.

The CHP nominated 12 candidates and agreed to support 10 IYI Party candidates in metropolitan municipalities.

The parties reached consensus in 27 out of 51 provinces.

As part of the electoral alliance, the CHP nominated mayoral candidates for Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Aydin, Eskisehir, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, Mugla and Tekirdag. The Good Party nominated candidates to compete for Balikesir, Kocaeli, Gaziantep, Denizli, Kayseri, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun and Trabzon.

For the remaining eight metropolitan cities and 24 provinces, each party will nominate its own candidates.

A total of 73 independent candidates will compete for district municipal mayors’ seats in metropolitan cities.

The last local elections, in March 2014, saw the AK Party clinch more than 45.5 percent of the vote.

This year, the opposition HDP decided not to field any candidates for mayor in five of Turkey’s largest cities: the metropolitan municipalities of Ankara, Istanbul, Adana, Mersin, Antalya and Izmir.

The race is expected to be tight in some of the metropolitan municipalities, including Ankara, Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Mersin, Adana and Antalya. Here are the candidates in those large cities:

ANKARA

Seven political parties and five independent candidates will compete for the mayor’s seat in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.

AK Party

The AK Party nominated Mehmet Ozhaseki, its deputy chair and a former environment and urbanization minister, for mayor, with support from the MHP.

The AK Party is also supporting MHP candidates in three districts of Ankara: Etimesgut, Golbasi, and Polatli.

CHP

The CHP nominated Mansur Yavas for mayor of Ankara — his second time seeking the post for the main opposition.

Yavas is a former MHP member and, from 1999 to 2009, served as mayor of Beypazari, one of Ankara’s largest districts.

In 2009, running for Ankara mayor under the MHP banner, Yavas won 25 percent of the vote, but lost to Melih Gokcek, the ruling AK Party candidate.

In 2014, Yavas ran under the CHP banner, and won 43.81 percent of the vote, but again narrowly lost to Gokcek, Ankara’s longtime mayor.

Gokcek stepped down in October 2017.

The Good (IYI) Party has not nominated any candidate for mayor and agreed to support the CHP’s candidate.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Mesut Dogan, a businessman, for the post.

ISTANBUL

Eight political parties and 24 independent candidates will run for mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial capital.

Over 15 million people — nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s population — live in greater Istanbul.

In 2014, AK Party candidate Kadir Topbas won the race with 47.95 percent of the vote.

AK Party

The AK Party named Binali Yildirim, a former parliament speaker and prime minister, to seek the top mayor’s post, and the MHP agreed to support him.

CHP

The CHP nominated Ekrem Imamoglu, who has been mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district since 2014.

The Good (IYI) Party is not fielding a candidate, and is instead supporting the CHP candidate.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Necdet Gokcinar, a local businessman.

IZMIR

Eight political parties and four independent candidates are seeking the post of Izmir mayor.

In 2014, CHP candidate Aziz Kocaoglu won the office with 49.6 percent of the vote.

AK PARTY

The AK Party nominated former Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci for mayor of Izmir, and the MHP agreed to support him at the polls.

President Erdogan earlier announced that his party would support MHP candidates in five districts of Izmir: Aliaga, Cesme, Dikili, Foca, and Narlidere.

CHP

Turkey’s main opposition CHP nominated Tunc Soyer, who has served as mayor of Izmir’s Seferihisar district, for the post of Izmir metropolitan mayor.

The Good (IYI) Party is not fielding any candidate for Izmir, and is instead supporting the CHP candidate.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Serafettin Kilic, an investment adviser.

ADANA

Seven political parties and one independent candidate are seeking the post of mayor of Adana in southern Turkey.

In 2014, MHP candidate Huseyin Sozlu won the race in Adana with 30.27 percent of the vote.

MHP

Sozlu, an agricultural engineer, is seeking a second term as mayor, and the ruling AKP Party agreed to support him.

The CHP will field Zeydan Karalar, an engineer, and the Good (IYI) Party agreed to support him.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Muhammet Celebi Keyhidir, a businessman.

MERSIN

Eight political parties are seeking the mayor’s seat in Mersin, a city in southern Turkey with a population of 915,000.

In 2014, MHP candidate Burhanettin Kocamaz won the mayoral race with 31.95 percent of the vote.

MHP

The MHP nominated Hamit Tuna, an engineer, for mayor of Mersin, and the ruling AK Party agreed to support him.

For Mersin, the CHP will field Vahap Secer, an engineer.

The Good (IYI) Party agreed to support the CHP candidate in Mersin, after the party failed to deliver current Mayor Kocamaz’s candidacy papers on time.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Erdal Alkan, a lawyer.

Supported by Kocamaz, Ayfer Yilmaz is the Democrat Party candidate for Mersin mayor.

ANTALYA

Eight political parties and one independent candidate will compete for the mayor’s seat in the southern resort city of Antalya.

In 2014, the AK Party’s Menderes Turel won the race with 36.42 of the vote, and this year the party nominated him for a second term.

The MHP agreed to support the AK Party candidate in Antalya.

The CHP will field Muhittin Bocek, an administrator, with the Good (IYI) Party supporting him.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Ali Aktas, a lawyer.

DIYARBAKIR

Eight political parties and five independent candidates will compete for the mayor’s seat in the Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey.

In 2014, Gultan Kisanak won the race with 55.11 percent of the vote, but she was arrested in October 2016 for links to the PKK terror group.

Cumali Atilla, Diyarbakir’s current mayor, has been nominated by the AK Party, with support from the MHP.

The CHP will field Veysi Aghan, with Good (IYI) Party support.

The HDP nominated Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, a doctor, and the Felicity (Saadet) Party nominated Fesih Bozan, an administrator.

Source: AA