Gökhan Günaydın, the deputy chair of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on Feb. 6 that the party must heed the public outcry against the renomination of Hatay mayor Lütfü Savaş for the upcoming local elections during a TV appearance.
Residents greeted Savaş with a big protest on Feb. 6 as he attended the earthquake commemoration night in Hatay. Victims booed him and chanted "resign" slogans.
“We must hear this outcry that is born out of human pain. And we hear it. Of course, we will reevaluate the decision with this sensitivity,” the deputy chair said.
CHP on Jan.11 announced the renomination of Savaş, who spent ten years in office as the mayor of Hatay Metropolitan Municipality. The nomination was criticized by Hatay citizens, as they believed Savaş, who was in office during the earthquakes, did not take accountability for the extent of the destruction, or properly responded to the needs of the earthquake-stricken province.
CHP leader Özgür Özel had responded to criticisms saying Savaş lead the polls in the province, and the party made a “political call” by not risking a loss.
Günaydın stated that the party has until Feb. 17 to revise its candidates. He added that the party would "definitely" discuss Savaş’s candidacy in this week’s caucus meeting upon hearing the uproar during the earthquake commemoration.
Later in the day, Savaş stated he would hold a press conference on Feb. 7 regarding the controversy surrounding his candidacy. His post read, "Fellow citizens, we won't allow those who try to use our agony for political leverage. No political gain could be more valuable than our Hatay. We will stand united in solidarity no matter what they do."
Değerli hemşehrilerim;— Lütfü Savaş 🇹🇷 (@DocDrLutfuSavas) February 6, 2024
Bugün on binlerce canımızın matemini tutarken acımızı bilerek ve isteyerek siyasi malzeme haline getirmeye çalışanlara, Hatay’da fırsat vermeyeceğiz. Hiçbir siyasi rant Hatay’dan değerli değildir.
Bizim acılarımız da mutluluklarımız da ortak. Ne yaparlarsa…
In an attempt to explain the protests, Günaydın said, “I believe it is important to understand that these protests are not directed at CHP’s efforts following the earthquake. All Hatay residents would agree that the Istanbul Municipality was there from the first day.”
Günaydın added that the party was not protested in other provinces they have visited on the anniversary of the earthquakes.
Amid contestations against Savaş's candidacy from CHP, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 4 suggested the province elect the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate if they "wanted to receive services this time around."