Turkish gov’t ally New Welfare Party names mayoral candidates for Istanbul, Ankara

Turkish government’s far-right ally New Welfare Party (YRP) has announced its mayoral candidates for Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir metropolitan municipalities, entering the race alongside several parties from both the ruling and opposition bloc.

From left to right: YRP's İzmir mayoral candidate Cemal Arıkan, Ankara candidate Suat Kılıç, party leader Fatih Erbakan, Istanbul candidate Mehmet Altınöz (DHA)

Duvar English

Turkish government’s far-right Islamist ally New Welfare Party (YRP) on Feb. 10 announced its mayoral candidates for Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir for the local elections to be held on March 31.

In an event held in the capital Ankara, YRP leader Fatih Erbakan named Mehmet Altınöz as Istanbul mayoral candidate, Suat Kılıç as Ankara mayoral candidate, Cemal Arıkan as İzmir mayoral candidate.

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.

Suat Kılıç, on the other hand, is a former Youth and Sports Minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

In a new hate speech, Fatih Erbakan said “Rent municipalism means municipalism involved in waste. Being a sculptor municipality means producing words, not work. It means spending millions of liras on festivals, celebrations and concerts. It means supporting LGBT events with the municipality's resources and causing the corruption of generations. It means transferring millions of liras to concerts where alcohol flows like water, held right next to our places of worship.”

Erbakan said their success in the local elections would pave the way to be the government in the 2028 general elections.

As one of their election promises, Erbakan said they would open “advanced driving tracks” to those who “want to master driving,” where “our young people will be able to satisfy the excitement of 'drifting', which has become widespread among young people lately, without risking anyone's life.”

​The YRP obtained “moral municipalism” as their local election campaign slogan.

In addition to the YRP, the CHP, AKP, İYİ Party, DEM Party, Felicity Party, Victory Party have fielded Istanbul mayoral candidates so far, alongside independent candidates. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is currently run by the main opposition CHP.

In the 2019 local elections, the İYİ Party and HDP, DEM’s predecessor, did not field candidates, paving the way for the CHP’s victory against the AKP. With several candidates from both the ruling and opposition bloc, the municipal race in Istanbul is expected to be neck and neck between the AKP and CHP. 

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.

The Islamist YRP ran a misogynistic and anti-LGBTI+ campaign. Exceeding the expectations, the party received 2.8 percent of the votes and entered the Parliament with five deputies.