Binali Yildirim keeps silent on calls to resign from parliament while running for mayor of Istanbul

On Friday the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s candidate for mayor of Istanbul, Binali Yildirim, avoided answering criticism that he was violating the constitution by not stepping down as speaker of parliament during his campaign, Sözcü reported.

In recent weeks, the main opposition party and the head of the Istanbul Bar have said Yildirim must resign from parliament in order to run in the Istanbul mayoral election, due on March 31.

The former prime minister will face the Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Ekrem İmamoğlu, the former mayor of a district in southwest Istanbul, in the March local elections.

“When Binali Yildirim’s candidacy is certified by the Supreme Electoral Council, it is required that he resign,” said the president of the Istanbul Bar, Mehmet Durakoğlu, Sözcü reported. He offered an example from 1963, when the Supreme Electoral Council cancelled the victory of a mayoral candidate in Istanbul who did not resign from his government post.

After his Friday prayers at an Istanbul mosque, Yildirim spoke to the press for 12 minutes but did not field any questions about the controversy. “God willing, March 31 onwards, after winning the confidence and favor of the 39 districts and the entire city of Istanbul, we will begin our service,” he told reporters.

In a poll conducted in late December 2018, Yildirim led Imamoğlu 36.5 percent to 33 percent, with nearly half of those surveyed in the poll responding they would not vote for Yildirim, while 43.4 percent said they wouldn’t vote for Imamoğlu.