ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Surveys pointing to the incumbent Melih Gökçek for the municipal elections in Ankara. In Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş has the same position. Other strong names are Tahir Akyürek in Konya and Mehmet Özhaseki in Kayseri. Daily News Photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
is expected to announce in the coming days the names that will run for office in the local elections; after that, he will reshuffle the Cabinet. Surprise changes are being whispered. There are expectations that Erdoğan will shift some of those Cabinet ministers who are banned by the party’s internal code from running for office three consecutive terms to the local level and appoint new figures to the ministries.
Even though they are local elections, they are expected to have an atmosphere of a general election. Five months after the March 2014 local elections, there are presidential elections in August 2014. Ten months later there are general elections in June 2015. These elections that come one after the other will certainly influence each other.
Erdoğan will select his candidates with this in mind. He is aiming to win strongholds of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) such as İzmir, Antalya
Meanwhile, he will go for candidates who score the highest in surveys to retain the municipalities he already has. Istanbul comes first in this category. With surveys pointing to the incumbent, Kadir Topbaş, it should be easy to choose for Erdoğan. In Ankara, Melih Gökçek has the same position. Other strong names are Tahir Akyürek in Konya and Mehmet Özhaseki in Kayseri.
For Şanlıurfa, Faruk Çelik was mentioned, but unless there is a last-minute change, the candidate will be Eşref Fakıbaba. It is also seen as certain that in Samsun it will be Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz.
Some Cabinet ministers are expected to run for office in certain metropoles. The CHP
stronghold İzmir is first. Erdoğan will make Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım the candidate for İzmir, although Yıldırım is not very enthusiastic. The only female member of the Cabinet, Fatma Şahin, may run for office in Gaziantep. For Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Hatay is being considered, but he is also not keen.
EU Minister Egemen Bağış’s name was whispered for Istanbul but he will continue in his post.
Other possible candidates are Menderes Türel for Antalya, Recep Altepe for Bursa, Hüseyin Tanrıverdi for Manisa, Edip Uğur for Balıkesir, Zeki Toçoğlu for Sakarya and İbrahim Karaosmanoğlu for Kocaeli.
For the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) stronghold of Diyarbakır, the AKP is looking for a strong candidate. Some candidates are former deputy Abdurrahman Kurt, former Batman deputy Emin Ekmen and trade unionist Münir Ceylan.
For the Cabinet reshuffle, Deputy PM Bülent Arınç will most probably leave the post of government spokesman. Names that are being whispered for Cabinet posts are Mehmet Ali Şahin, Nurettin Canikli, Mustafa Şentop, Haluk İpek, Öznur Çalık, Mahir Ünal, Ahmet Arslan, Mücahit Fındıklı and Mustafa Elitaş.
AKP, CHP look at ‘package’ alliance
The Constitution Conciliation Commission is gone. The opposition parties will either meet today or Friday to put the last nail in the coffin. After this stage, there could be attempts at a bilateral or trilateral alliance by the parties. I asked about this option to two names from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Atilla Kart from the CHP
said they would consider the matter if there was a proposal about deputies under arrest, alongside the 60 articles that have already been agreed upon. Ahmet İyimaya from the AKP also said a partial amendment could be discussed, albeit after elections. Taking into account the conjuncture, it is not impossible that the AKP and CHP
might get together after the elections for the constitutional change.
Is the HDP after a district in Istanbul ?
Whispers are coming from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) front about its search for an alliance with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). These contacts are not being confirmed, but it is being said that behind this search is a plan to win a district in Istanbul. According to what is being talked about in lobbies, the HDP might give up on nominating Sırrı Süreyya Önder for the metropolitan mayor’s position in return for winning the Esenyurt district where many Kurdish people live and where the AKP has won since 2004. There are also rumors that the party has demanded a deputy mayor position in a CHP-run metropolitan Istanbul.