Right-wing nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener has stated that they will field mayoral candidates in Istanbul and Ankara in the 2024 local elections.
Akşener told journalist Fatih Altaylı in a YouTube program dated Sept. 6 that they will enter the local elections everywhere on their own, “including in Istanbul and Ankara. I will bring this issue to the party’s board meeting.”
When asked whether they would risk losing Istanbul, Akşener said, “We are taking the risk. Maybe our candidate will be chosen.”
When asked, “You say, 'We will nominate a candidate whether we win 5 or 10 percent in Istanbul, Ankara,',” Akşener said, "Yes, I will bring this issue to the party’s board meeting. This is the feedback we get from our friends. That's my opinion too. As soon as it passes from the board, it will be the final decision (of our party).”
Commenting on the situation of a possible failure in the local elections, Akşener said, “I will pay the price, all responsibility belongs to me. Everyone can say whatever they want, I do not care. We did not establish this party to elect CHP candidates. It's over.”
“We established this party to be the third way, to be a breather. We will tell this to our people. We believe that the nation is uncomfortable with this stuckness,” Akşener added.
Upon that, CHP deputy chair Bülent Kuşoğlu told the daily Yeniçağ journalist Orhan Uğuroğlu that “We do not have any alliance discussions at the moment, but if anyone knocks on our door, our door is open. We respect the decision to enter the elections separately.”
In the 2019 local elections, the İYİ Party and opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) did not field mayoral candidates for Istanbul and Ankara metropolitan municipalities, paving the way for the main opposition CHP candidates, Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş, to assume the mayorships against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
İmamoğlu and Yavaş announced that they will run again for the local elections to be held on March 31, 2024 in their metropolitan municipalities.
Akşener also said some parties in the main opposition Nation Alliance, which included the İYİ Party, campaigned against voting for the İYİ Party in the May 14 General Election.
The Nation Alliance included the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), İYİ Party, Felicity (Saadet) Party, Democrat Party, Future (Gelecek) Party, and Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party.
During the interview, Akşener also talked about the process when she left the Nation Alliance upon CHP Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential candidacy and her return.
Akşener on March 3 publicly rejected Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential candidacy despite other parties in the alliance agreeing upon him, saying his candidacy is being imposed on the İYİ Party.
One day later, Akşener said she was supporting CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and CHP Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş as candidates amid polls indicating they could perform better against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. She later returned to the alliance after the leaders agreed upon the vice presidencies of İmamoğlu and Yavaş.
Akşener said the six leaders of the Nation Alliance agreed upon talking about how the presidential candidate would be selected in the meeting dated March 2.
“The authority given to me by my party was proposing that each party (in the alliance) would show a survey from a company they trusted for the candidate name. I expected to talk about the method (to choose the candidate in the meeting). But suddenly the conversation turned to the question of ‘Who should be the candidate?.' (Other four leaders said Kılıçdaroğlu). When it was my turn, I said, 'I did not receive such authorization (from my party).' I suggested our method by saying that it is my authority. When I said this, they looked at the sky. Then Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu said, 'If Ms. Meral doesn't sign (the statement on the candidate), let’s five of us sign it, then go out.' Then I said 'Well then, I wish you luck',” Akşener said.
“Then they stopped me and said, 'If you have received such authority, then ask Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy to your party.' Now this is such a feeling that... On the one hand, there are children your daughter's age who are looking at us (with hope), on the other hand, there is something completely different going on inside you, that is, a process that has not been managed properly (within the alliance). And I said 'okay'. When I told my friends (in the party) what happened, they took a very harsh attitude,” she added.