The People’s Alliance, comprised of governing AK Party and MHP, will compete against the Nation’s Alliance, led by CHP and IYI Party.

Turkey's political parties are campaigning hard for the upcoming municipal elections.
Turkey's political parties are campaigning hard for the upcoming municipal elections. (Sener Toktas / AA)

This explainer was prepared using research conducted by the TRT World Research Centre. 

For more, read their Info Pack on Turkish local elections here.

With municipal elections in Turkey scheduled for March 31, 67 of 81 Turkish cities will participate in the polls with at least one alliance and the rest will go solo. 

For almost 58 million registered voters, there are two alliances, the People's Alliance and the Nation's Alliance, to vote for.

The governing AK Party and the MHP are in the People's Alliance, while the CHP and IYI Party are part of Nation's Alliance.  

Overall, 12 political parties will participate in the elections and will be part of either of the two alliances. 

In metropolitan municipalities, Turkish citizens will vote for metropolitan mayors, district municipality mayors, city councils, and mukhtars (headmen).

The AK Party and MHP are collaborating in 51 out of 81 provinces through the nomination of single candidates.

The main opposition CHP and IYI Party - under the Nation’s Alliance - are cooperating in a total of 50 provinces.

Political Alliances for Turkey's local elections on 31 March 2019.
Political Alliances for Turkey's local elections on 31 March 2019. (TRTWorld)

In the largest three cities - Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - the MHP is supporting the AK Party’s candidates while in Adana, Mersin and Manisa, the AK Party is supporting MHP’s candidates.

The IYI is supporting CHP’s candidates in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Additionally, the HDP has not nominated candidates in 11 metropolitan cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, yet its candidates are running in several districts of Istanbul.

The AK Party and MHP are not running with a single candidate for some city municipalities in some central and north Anatolian cities, while CHP and IYI Party are attending separately  in the eastern part of Turkey.

The AK Party and MHP have been working together since late 2015. They got a boost when the right-wing opposition party BBP joined the People's Alliance on May 3. The BBP won around 0.5 percent of votes in the 2015 parliamentary elections.

For the upcoming municipal elections, the BBP is not fielding candidates for 30 major municipalities.

In the Nation’s Alliance, the CHP, IYI Party, Saadet Party and Democrat Party are working together. 

The CHP has been the main opposition party in parliament since the early 2000s. 

Big Cities

Istanbul, the economic and sociocultural capital of the country, is the most important city for the political parties in the local elections. From the People's Alliance, former prime minister Binali Yildirim will run for mayorship of Istanbul, where more than 15 million people live. His counterpart from the Nation's Alliance will be Ekrem Imamoglu. 

Yildirim is one of the founding members of the AK Party and a prominent figure in Turkish politics. During his political career Yildirim served in various positions, including as minister of transportation and communication, and prime minister. Yildirim was the last prime minister of the country following Turkey’s transition to a presidential system.

Following the 2018 general elections, he was elected as the speaker of the parliament. Yildirim resigned from his post to run for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in the upcoming local elections. 

Yildirim is running with the pledges of building new underground metro lines, green park projects and an environmentally friendly and smart city. 

Imamoglu is the current Mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district. Before his current post, he served as chairman of his family business, board member of Trabzonspor Football Club and executive of the CHP’s local organisation in Beylikduzu.

Following his tenure in Beylikduzu , Imamoglu was nominated for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality by the CHP. His candidacy is also supported by the IYI Party as part of the Nation’s Alliance.

Imamoglu pledges to increase welfare, offer cheaper transportation for people, new green parks and daycare centres in every neighbourhood.

Turkey’s capital Ankara is the second most populated city with 5.5 million inhabitants. High population and political significance makes Ankara an important bastion for local elections.

Mehmet Ozhaseki from the People’s Alliance and Mansur Yavas from the Nation's Alliance are up for Ankara's mayoral race.  

Ozhaseki began his political career in his home city of Kayseri in central Turkey. He was elected as mayor of Kayseri for four terms, serving in the post for nearly two decades. In the 2015 general elections he was elected as an MP, serving as minister of environment and urban planning until 2018.

Ozhaseki has been campaigning on the promises of building facilities such as children's parks and green parks and making investments in cultural development and transportation projects.

His rival Yavas has been promising new technological and industrial parks, underground metro lines, renovation projects for historical sites and tourism investments.

Tunc Soyer and Nihat Zeybekci are running for mayorship of Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city.

Soyer is a local politician in Izmir and has served as Mayor of the Seferhisar district since 2009. Before his current post, he served as an advisor in the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and deputy secretary general of the Izmir Chamber of Commerce.

Soyer’s promises are clean energy investments, children’s villages, and cheap transportation.

Zeybekci began his political career in his hometown Denizli in the Aegean region. In the 2004 and 2009 local elections, he was elected as the mayor of the Denizli Municipality from the AK Party. In the 2011 general elections Zeybekci was elected to the parliament. From 2013 to 2018 he served as minister of economy in the AK Party government.

Zeybekci is running with the pledges of new transport and industry projects, and investments in culture.

Source: TRT World