Main opposition CHP decides to move forward with Hatay Mayor Savaş’s re-candidacy after days of struggling

Turkish main opposition CHP has decided to move forward with Lütfü Savaş's re-candidacy for Hatay Municipality one day after party leader Özel hinted they could not win with Savaş according to surveys. For the last two weeks, the party was reconsidering Savaş’s candidacy upon the public outcry in the province against him as a few figures reported that they were offered the position.

Duvar English

Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Feb. 20 decided to move forward with Hatay Mayor Lütfü Savaş’s re-candidacy for the local elections to be held on March 31 after days of negotiations and discussions. 

In a statement made at midnight, the party said “As a result of the latest evaluations and upon the requests and agreements of our provincial organization, district organizations and district mayor candidates, it has been decided to keep Lütfü Savaş's candidacy.”

The move came one day after CHP leader Özgür Özel hinted they could not win in Hatay with Savaş according to surveys.

“We conducted five surveys in Hatay. I will talk to Lütfü Savaş soon, and I will share the survey results. It shows that we will win the election if we develop an alternative (candidate) with the approval of Mr. Lütfü. If we don't do this and don't hear Hatay's voice, it shows that we are in trouble,” Özel told Now TV, previously known as Fox TV.

“If the Hatay Alliance is not established, the candidate of the People's Alliance will have a chance,” Özel added.

After his remarks, Savaş said he was going to hold a rally in Hatay on Feb. 20.

In January, the party decided to re-field Savaş for the local elections, again suggesting the survey results but this time in favor of Savaş. The move received backlash as he was criticized for not taking accountability for the extent of the destruction in Hatay and for not properly responding to the needs of the earthquake-stricken province.

On the anniversary of the Feb. 6 earthquakes, Hatay people booed and whistled Savaş and CHP leader Özgür Özel as they joined the night march on the anniversary of the earthquakes. After the outcry, the party announced that they would re-consider his candidacy.

In the last two weeks, a few figures stated that they were offered the position by the CHP, which they eventually rejected.

More than 20,000 people were killed and 13,000 buildings collapsed in Hatay in the Feb. 6 quakes in 2023, one of the cities hardest hit.

Savaş was first elected as the mayor of Antakya district from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2009 local elections, yet switched to the CHP when he was not nominated for the Hatay municipality in the following term. He has been the Mayor of Hatay since 2014.

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."