Journalist Nuray Babacan, from Gazete Pencere, on Jan. 26 reported that Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya was blaming his predecessor Süleyman Soylu and his team for not being named as the Istanbul mayoral candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Yerlikaya's Kemalist rhetoric was not embraced by the ultra-conservative base either. Yerlikaya blamed AKP trolls for the image created against him, claiming that the Süleyman Soylu team was behind it,” Babacan said in her column.
“We had written that the most important reason for not naming Yerlikaya, who first did not want to be nominated and then was in the race, was his ‘potential to act independently’,” she added.
President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 7 named AKP deputy and former Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum as his party’s Istanbul mayoral candidate for the mayoral election to be held on March 31, 2024.
Ali Yerlikaya was among the potential names for AKP’s Istanbul mayoral candidacy, besides Esenler District Mayor Tevfik Göksu, Fatih District Mayor Mehmet Ergun and former Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu.
In recent months, Yerlikaya adopted a pro-Mustafa Kemal Atatürk rhetoric, which some interpreted as targeting nationalist and moderate voters, signaling his willingness to run for Istanbul mayorship.
After the appointment of Yerlikaya as Interior Minister after Soylu in 2023, many changes were made especially in the police ranks and bureaucratic staff. He also launched operations against criminal organizations and police officers reportedly close to Soylu.