Meral Akşener, the leader of the centre-right opposition Good Party (İP), said that the mayors of Ankara and Istanbul could both be in the running to become the opposition’s consensus presidential candidate to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at next year’s election.
The İP will abide by the decision of the six opposition leaders who are working on putting forward a joint candidate for the 2023 presidential elections under the Nation Alliance, Akşener told tv100 on Monday.
Turkey’s opposition alliance includes the nationalist İP, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), the Islamist Felicity Party (SP), the Democrat Party (DP), former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Future Party (GP) and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan’s Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA). In February, the six agreed on a shared set of political principles that focused on the re-introduction of a parliamentary system of government to replace a presidential system introduced in 2018.
“The components of the (ruling) People’s Alliance are very curious about our candidate, but our priority is to partner in changing the system,” Akşener said.
Mansur Yavaş, the mayor of Ankara, is Turkey’s most-liked political leader, according to several opinion polls held over the past year. Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu is the second-most popular, followed by Erdoğan. Both Yavaş and İmamoğlu, who are members of the CHP, are more favoured by voters than party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. In February, Kılıçdaroğlu appeared to rule out supporting their candidacies by laying down a condition that the next president should have experience in state affairs. He put himself forward for consideration.
Akşener said her party would not reject Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy if he were nominated by all parties of the alliance.
“The 13th president of Turkey will be the joint candidate of the Nation Alliance,” she said.
Erdoğan won presidential elections in Turkey in June 2018 with 52.6 percent of the vote. He saw off a challenge by Muharrem Ince, the candidate for the opposition alliance, who garnered 30.6 percent support.
Talks between opposition parties began last year after opinion polls showed that Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) were suffering a slump in public support ahead of elections slated for June 2023.