İmamoğlu focused on second term as Istanbul mayor over presidency bid

Istanbul’s newly elected opposition party mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, has not ruled out a bid to stand against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2023 elections, but he is more focused on making a success of running Turkey’s biggest city for two terms, said Abdülkadir Selvi, an influential columnist for the Hürriyet newspaper.

Turkey’s next presidential election is still three years away, but İmamoğlu and the former president, Abdullah Gül, who has been sidelined by Erdoğan, are two figures mentioned in opposition circles as potential presidential election candidates, Selvi said on Tuesday.

“The people and my party decide whether I will be a presidential candidate,” İmamoğlu says whenever reporters ask him about the 2023 elections, but the popular secular opposition party politician would prefer to serve two terms as Istanbul’s mayor, the columnist said. 

This is because mayors usually reap the fruits of their efforts during their second terms, and despite his success in defeating Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in local polls this year, İmamoğlu still needs to prove himself, said Selvi. 

On the other hand, before local polls in 2019, İmamoğlu had also planned to serve two terms as the mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district, said Selvi. 

“Of course his plan was to become Istanbul’s mayor after two terms (in Beylikdüzü), but he took the seat he targeted after only one term,” the columnist said.