Jan 10 2019

Elections are not political activities, says AKP candidate for mayor of Istanbul

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s candidate for mayor of Istanbul, Binali Yıldırım, said on Thursday that elections were not political activities, while responding to criticisms against him not stepping down as speaker of parliament during his campaign, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported

Yıldırım remained quiet on the matter until today, after calls from the main opposition party and the head of the Istanbul Bar have to resign from parliament in order to run in the Istanbul mayoral election, due on March 31.

“We are not doing any political activity. Elections are not political activities,” Yıldırım told reporters working in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

According to Yıldırım, elections mean explaining to people what you are going to do as mayor and the reasons for running in mayoral elections.

“I now say, considering the essence of the issue, what if the person was not the speaker of the parliament but an independent lawmaker or a mayor,” Yıldırım said. 

Yıldırım also said that according to the Turkish constitution’s article 94 and the law on local elections, he was not required  to step down as speaker of the parliament to run in elections.

“The speaker and vice-speakers of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey cannot participate, within or outside the Assembly, in the activities of the political party or party group in which they are a member,” Article 94 of the constitution says. 

On the other hand, Turkish law on local elections cites another law on political parties which says that lawmakers in the Turkish parliament do not need to resign to run for parliamentary elections. 

Yıldırım today called other candidates to resign their posts, if such a rule is to be followed. “The parliament can adopt this rule and these debates can end,” he said. “If everyone is to resign, I will resign too.

Former prime minister Yıldırım will compete against the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in March. İmamoğlu at the moment is the mayor of İstanbul’s Beylikdüzü district.