OPINION:  Who  is ahead in Istanbul and Ankara?

Pro-opposition conservative daily KARAR’s columnist (Ms) Semra Alkan shared her impressions from the campaign trail in her Saturday post. She believes in Istanbul and Ankara CHP incumbents are closer to winning the 31 March local elections, but ballot fraud remains a risk.


The below are highlights from her column:

Ekrem Imamoglu’s grassroots politics is “taking root”. The seeds of his campaign sees branches sprouting. It’s close to blooming. It is not easy to win, when all candidates are  against him. The best thing that İmamoğlu has done so far is to address all voters without discrimination and explain his projects.


He was able to make his voice heard and open the doors of hearts to the crowds who were affected by all the negativities experienced in the world and in our country, who became timid and retreated into their own shell. I would also like to state that I found the advertising campaign “We ended waste and brought service, Istanbul succeeded” successful.

At this point, it was important to show that he touched the lives of individuals who were struggling alone with thousands of difficulties, especially in the city. Especially since I have been having in-depth interviews in the field (Istanbul, Ankara) for several months, I can say this: The maneuvers  conducted by İmamoğlu since the beginning of the campaign are yielding  positive results.

AKP hopeful Murat Kurum, on the other hand, started a little shaky  at first,  making blunders from time to time, but, was able to explain his projects to the voters and make his voice heard. Especially the project of rebuilding  600 thousand houses against earthquake risk attracted the attention of the voters. However, the promise he made yesterday, ‘The oppressed people in Gaza will rejoice on March 31’ was a big mistake.

In summary, as a result of the voter interviews, I can say the following:

It seems like an almost neck-and-neck election race awaits us in Istanbul. Yet, İmamoğlu seems closer to winning as of now.

The last month is very important for both İmamoğlu and Kurum. The slightest mistake could cause the election to be lost. At this point, it is fair to say that the ‘undecideds’ will decide the race.

On the other hand, I think that it is futile for İmamoğlu to respond to President Erdoğan on national issues. If I were İmamoğlu, I would focus only on the projects without responding to Erdoğan. Otherwise it’s a problem. If the election is lost, it may be lost just for this reason.

Frankly, the problems experienced by the opposition in recent years are obvious. It’s safe to say we’re tired of talking blaming the problems on Erdogan. But what happens? Voters are  always turning around and voting for President Erdoğan. Of course, there are many reasons behind this, I will not explain it in detail now. In short, since the opposition voters  cannot see a leader who demonstrates the will  and capacity to govern, thus they choose Erdoğan again.


On the other hand, if I were Kurum, I would focus only on the projects without getting into verbal arguments with İmamoğlu. It is obvious that Kurum  is weak when it comes to polemics.

I can say that Mansur Yavaş is closer to winning in Ankara than Turgut Altınok. The most important reason behind this can be stated as Yavaş’s closeness to the voters. In a sense, he can establish collective empathy with the public.

Complaints are expressed about traffic or infrastructure, but at the end of the day, the choice is generally made in favor of Yavaş.

In this context, if I were Yavaş, I would try to explain more to the voters the projects that will ease traffic and solve infrastructure problems. So, I will step up the gear on classical municipal studies.

On the other hand, if I were Altınok, I would try to stay closer to the citizens. In other words, I try to establish emotional connections and win people’s hearts. In fact, if Altinok looked up to Erdoğan as an example in this regard, he could have a better chance.

I can also recommend all candidates to focus on field work, such as touring open bazaars and shopping districts. Instead of classical hall meetings and rallies, I can recommend them to make home visits and find ways to reach voters one-on-one.

Because the more candidates can explain their skills and projects to more voters in this election, the closer they will be to winning.

Finally, I would like to remind CHP incumbents that it is important to work on ‘ballot box security’ to prevent fraud.

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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.