Gov’t ally YRP demanded two district municipalities to support AKP in Istanbul, its leader says

Turkish government’s far-right ally YRP leader Fatih Erbakan has revealed that they previously demanded two district municipalities in return for their support of AKP in Istanbul in municipal elections. The YRP named a mayoral candidate for Istanbul two weeks ago after both parties failed to reach an agreement.

This file photo shows YRP leader Fatih Erbakan (L), and President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R)

Duvar English

Fatih Erbakan, the leader of the Turkish government’s far-right Islamist ally New Welfare Party (YRP), on Feb. 22 revealed their previous demand to support the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Istanbul municipal election.

Speaking during a TV100 live broadcast, Erbakan said they demanded two district municipalities in Istanbul, one from Asian and one from European side, in return for their support of AKP in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

When asked “Were the districts Arnavutköy and Sultanbeyli?,” Erbakan stated that “the districts are not very important. Since they did not say, ‘Well, where do you want?’ we could not talk much about it.”

The YRP named Mehmet Altınöz as its Istanbul mayoral candidate on Feb. 10 after both parties failed to reach an agreement.

The YRP entered the 2023 general elections as part of the People’s (Cumhur) Alliance with the ruling AKP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and ultranationalist Great Unity Party (BBP). The alliance supported the presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After running a misogynistic and anti-LGBTI+ campaign, the party received 2.8 percent of the votes and entered the Parliament with five deputies, exceeding expectations. The party received 3.32 percent of the votes in Istanbul in the 2023 general election.

The party obtained “moral municipalism” as their local election campaign slogan, once again targeting the LGBTI+ community.

52 candidates will run for Istanbul mayorship in the local elections to be held on March 31. Among the pool of candidates, the race is expected to be neck and neck between Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the main opposition CHP, and the ruling AKP’s candidate Murat Kurum who is a former minister.

YRP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Mehmet Altınöz is the husband of Elif Erbakan, the older sister of Fatih Erbakan and the daughter of Necmettin Erbakan who is one of the former Islamist prime ministers. Necmettin Erbakan, died in 2011, was the long-time leader of Turkey's Islamic political movement.