YRP leader announces conditions for Istanbul candidate’s withdrawal on behalf of AKP

Radical Islamist YRP leader Fatih Erbakan has announced three conditions for the withdrawal of their Istanbul mayoral candidate on behalf of the ruling AKP: Ending trade relations with Israel, the closure of Kürecik Radar Station, doubling the lowest pension.

Duvar English

Turkey’s far-right Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) leader Fatih Erbakan on March 28 announced their conditions for the withdrawal of their Istanbul mayoral candidate on behalf of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Speaking at the southern Hatay province during a local election rally, Erbakan said, “If the government announces the end of trade with Israel, the closure of the Kürecik Radar Station in Malatya, which was established to protect Israel, and announces that it is increasing the (lowest) pension to 20,000 liras, we are ready to withdraw our candidate for Istanbul.”

Turkey will hold local elections on March 31.

It has come to light that Turkey was continuing trade relations with Israel which have been continuing to attack and occupy Palestine. Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data revealed that Israeli imports increased after the attacks on Gaza began on Oct. 7, 2023 in November. 

The Turkish government has been among the staunchest critics of Israel’s attacks in Gaza, and pro-government organizations have frequently called Turkish citizens to boycotts. 

Nevertheless, many reportings revealed that some companies close to the Turkish government and Islamist business group Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD) have been continuing their ties with Israel.

On the other hand, Kürecik is a NATO radar station in the eastern province of Malatya. 

Meanwhile, Turkey’s lowest pension currently stands at approximately 10,000 liras, falling below the minimum wage of 17,002 liras. The pensioners' demand for an improvement in their wages has not been satisfied yet by the government, which can be effective in their votes. 

Erbakan also addressed the criticisms of their candidacy in Istanbul helping the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.

“If we go with this logic, the (pro-Kurdish) DEM Party, which they say is in cahoots with (the PKK), is also entering the elections to help the AKP. For God's sake, what kind of logic is that? You are saying that YRP will help the CHP’s victory. Then, the İYİ Party is also entering the elections to help the AKP. If you follow this logic, then only two parties should enter the elections, not the other parties,” Erbakan said. 

“Now take these steps, we are ready to withdraw our candidate without any expectations, but unfortunately we have no hope that you will take such a step. If you were going to take such a step, you would have already taken a step in the face of this massacre, this atrocity that has been taking place since October 7th, without even waiting for the call of the YRP,” Erbakan said, criticizing the trade relations with Israel.

22 political parties and 27 independent candidates are running for the Istanbul mayorship, although the race is expected to be neck-and-neck with Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the CHP, and former Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum, from the AKP. As opposed to the 2019 local elections, both the CHP and the AKP can lose some votes because of other parties’ candidates. 

After the YRP decided to field mayoral candidates in key places following a disagreement with AKP, the latter said the YRP has not been part of Turkey's ruling People’s Alliance anymore. 

Before the 2023 general election, two parties signed an alliance protocol, including subtle clauses to usurp the rights of women and the LGBTI+ community.

The YRP has adopted the slogan of “Moral municipalism” for the local elections, targeting the LGBTI+ community.

Mehmet Altınöz is running for the Istanbul mayorship from the YRP.