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Jan 05 2019

Deputy chair says ruling AKP has Ankara, İstanbul ‘in the bag’ in local elections

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will cruise into victory in both İstanbul and capital Ankara in the March 31 local elections, independent news site Diken quoted the party’s deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş as saying on Saturday.

Starting with the key provinces of İstanbul and Ankara, the AKP has no concerns as the country counts down to the head to the ballot boxes, Kurtulmuş said.

“The AKP is the favored party according to all election districts,’’ Kurtulmuş said, stressing that they have full confidence in the positive results AKP’s alliance with far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will yield at the polls.

The MHP in November announced it would not nominate metropolitan mayoral candidates in Turkey’s three biggest provinces, in a bid to support the ruling AKP.

Amid cries of foul from the opposition for his current role as parliament speaker, former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will face main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in the race for mayor of İstanbul, while Ankara will see CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş take on AKP’s Mehmet Özhaseki.

According to Turkey’s Piar polling company, AKP is in the lead in İstanbul while opposition CHP is winning the mayoral race in capital Ankara.

Another leading polling company, Konsensus, announced that AKP currently has 44.6 percent support in İstanbul, 8 percent more than CHP, Diken said.

İstanbul and Ankara are home to a quarter of Turkey's population and are seen as key in the March 31 local elections.

The ruling AKP has governed much of Istanbul for 24 years and remains in power in Ankara; the upcoming vote is being seen as a referendum on people’s trust in the party, which has ruled the country for 17 years.

The leading AKP won 18 out of 30 metropolitan municipalities in the last local elections of 2014, receiving 60 percent of the votes.