Former Urbanization Minister Kurum to run for Istanbul mayorship as AKP's candidate in local elections

The ruling AKP deputy and former Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum has been named as his party's Istanbul mayoral candidate for the upcoming local elections, President Erdoğan has announced. The municipality is currently run by the main opposition CHP.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 7 announced the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Istanbul mayoral candidate for the local elections to be held on March 31, 2024.

In a ceremony held in Istanbul, Erdoğan said AKP deputy and former Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum would run for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality mayorship in the local elections.

Erdoğan also announced the AKP’s 25 other provincial mayoral candidates. He will announce his party’s Ankara candidate on Jan. 15.

Erdoğan announced Murat Kurum’s candidacy with the slogan of “Istanbul Again, AKP Again.” 

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), won against AKP’s Binali Yıldırım in the 2019 local elections, taking over the municipality from the AKP for the first time after decades.

“We also have to take the responsibility for the municipalities run by the opposition parties. Our aim is to appear before our nation for the March 31, 2024 elections with candidates who will fulfill our promise of real municipalism. We say to our citizens who are deprived of the services they deserve because of the opposition's ideological candidates, you don't have to. None of our people are obliged to vote for incompetents,” Erdoğan said.

“Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, we will definitely bring Istanbul out of the interregnum period of the last five years. Like all Istanbulites, we see very clearly that Istanbul can no longer tolerate losing another five years. You cannot be a part-time mayor,” Erdoğan said, criticizing İmamoğlu. 

Erdoğan also said “The CHP has been politically bankrupt for a long time. They can neither give hope to the nation nor put forward any ideas in terms of projects and visions. We will bring our nation together with real municipalism and liberate (CHP leader) Özgür (Özel). Özgür Özel is worried about rescuing a terrorist, who was arrested for plotting against the constitutional order, from prison by digging a tunnel,” referring to the jailed TİP MP Can Atalay, who is kept in prison despite the Constitutional Court rulings.

Later in the AKP Istanbul building, Murat Kurum said “During our ministerial period, we made services that touched the lives of our people. We worked hard for our nation in disasters. We never ran after different agendas. What the current administration did in five years, we did many times more. Now our motivation will only be Istanbul. It is time for change in Istanbul. We will return Istanbul to its essence,” Ferhat Yaşar from Gazete Duvar reported.

Kurum was the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister between 2018 and 2023. He was elected as AKP deputy in the 2023 elections. 

He was heavily criticized during the Feb. 6 earthquakes that shook Turkey’s southeast for not preparing the provinces against the quakes and allowing zoning amnesties despite experts’ several warnings that such a move would put people’s lives at risk due to potential earthquakes. More than 50,000 people died in the Feb. 6 earthquakes according to official figures.

He is also a supporter of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project despite widespread criticism over its cost and environmental impact.

In the 2019 local elections, the İYİ Party and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) did not field mayoral candidates for Istanbul and Ankara metropolitan municipalities, making the race between the AKP and the CHP, which ended in a CHP victory.