Survey predicts tight races between AKP and CHP in March

The latest pre-election survey from pollster Avrasya has Turkey’s lead opposition candidates topping ruling party candidates in Ankara, Izmir, and Antalya and running neck-and-neck in Istanbul, Diken news site reported on Thursday.

The Avrasya poll offers predictions for Turkey’s metropolitan cities in the lead-up to March 31 local elections. The survey estimates voting shares of candidates for the coalition between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the coalition between the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the nationalist Good Party.

Avrasya research director Kemal Özkiraz said on Twitter that the results might change if the mainly Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) and the Islamist Felicity Party chose to run in those cities.

In Istanbul, the country’s most populated city, the AKP candidate and speaker of parliament, Binali Yıldırım, will get 44 percent of the votes, Avrasya said, while Ekrem İmamoğlu, the CHP candidate, will receive 42 percent.

Mansur Yavaş, the CHP mayoral candidate with a far-right background for the Turkish capital of Ankara, will receive 49 percent of the vote, while his main opponent, the AKP’s Mehmet Özhaseki, will get 40 percent, according to Avrasya’s poll. 

Ankara had been overseen by Melih Gökçek for 23 years, until the veteran politician was replaced with a mayor appointed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2017.

Mansur Yavaş ran against Gökçek in the previous local elections in 2014 and lost after a tally ridden with accusations of vote theft and burning, the intentional miscalculation of results, and ballot boxes allegedly replaced during coincidental electricity cuts. 

In Izmir, the CHP’s stronghold in western Turkey, the opposition party is still trying to name its mayoral candidate. The CHP’s vote share is at 63 percent, while the AKP candidate Nihat Zeybekçi has a vote share of 24 percent.

Along with Izmir, the southern province of Antalya is also an important target for Turkey’s ruling party. In its 17 years in power, the AKP has failed to significantly increase its votes in secularist coastal cities in the west and the south of the country.

Avrasya predicts that the CHP candidate for Antalya, Muhittin Böcek, will get 52 percent of the votes in March, while the AKP’s Menderes Türel, the current mayor of the city, will get 38 percent.