Akşener calls İmamoğlu, Yavaş ‘cowards’ in a row over Turkey’s local elections

İYİ Chair Akşener deemed actions of some party members engaging in backdoor talks with CHP after her party decided to enter the upcoming local elections without any alliance as a "declaration of war.” She accused Yavaş and İmamoğlu, who will compete again from CHP in the local elections, of "cowardice" for not entering the presidential election.

Akşener, İmamoğlu, and Yavaş meet after İYİ's temporary withdrawal from Nation Alliance in the run up to the general elections.

Duvar English

The tension between the former allies nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) following the former’s decision to to nominate its own candidates in each constituency in the upcoming local elections jumped to new heights after İYİ chair Meral Akşener's fierce statements on Dec. 19.

Akşener described the resignations of many party members who advocated an alliance with the CHP in the elections and the allegations that some party officials held talks with the CHP for collaboration in certain districts as a "declaration of war.”

She responded vehemently to the statements made by İbrahim Özkan, the Istanbul Municipality Assembly Group Deputy Chair who resigned from İYİ, claiming that he had held talks with the CHP with Akşener's knowledge.

“The head of the party organization and the head of local administrations have no knowledge of this. For the first time - I do not believe in such conspiracies - it turned out that there was an institutional operation against our party. Because even though I am not aware of the diplomacy of our friend as the party chair, the municipal council member is holding talks on behalf of the party,” Akşener stated.

Akşener said that constituencies in the capital Ankara was allocated between parties in these talks and that it was rumored that some of her party members would run under the CHP’s name.

“I do not know about any of it. Do you know what this means? It means interfering in the internal affairs of a political party. We experienced this in 1997 in the True Path Party (DYP). I am trained in this. I accept it as a declaration of war as of now and I am in,” Akşener fiercely underscored.

Akşener once again underlined that they would nominate their own candidates in all municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara, and that she would be responsible for both success and failure.

Referring to the tension in the Nation Alliance during the presidential elections, Akşener also targeted Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB), and Mansur Yavaş, Mayor of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality (ABB), without naming them. 

"I have stayed silent to win. I took them to (alliance) table because the nation wanted these friends (as candidates). I was kicked out of that table. Both of them were cowered and did not accept. They did not accept what the nation wanted, not what I want."

As a response to Akşener, Yavaş on Dec. 20 said, "To be accused of cowardice frankly hurts me." He added, "Akşener had many statements that Kılıçdaroğlu would be the candidate. If only a different decision had been taken without leaving it to the last moment and if she wanted me to be a candidate, maybe she could have paved the way for me.” 

After the general elections held in 2023, in which the İYİ ran with the Nation Alliance, the party started to oppose the alliance system on the grounds that it pushed back the party's identity.

Akşener had problems with the alliance, especially during the process of determining the presidential candidate, and has even announced that her party had left the alliance before the nomination of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the presidential candidate. She return back to the alliance after talks with İmamoğlu and Yavaş. 

The mayors had been announced as the “vice presidents” after this crisis. 

The local elections will be held in March 31, 2024.