AKP to unveil initial slate of candidates for local polls Sunday

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set to unveil its first batch of candidates for the upcoming local elections on Jan. 7, spokesperson Ömer Çelik has revealed.

The remaining candidates will be officially announced on Jan. 15, along with the election manifesto, Çelik told a group of journalists at the party headquarters in the capital Ankara late on Jan. 3.

Amid the intrigue surrounding the candidate selection, all eyes are on Istanbul, where the AKP aims to reclaim control of the municipality. When questioned about the announcement of candidates for Istanbul and Ankara, Çelik said it rests "at the discretion of president and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan."

A notable approach in shaping the choice of candidate for Istanbul involves a tendency survey among party officials. Erdoğan convened a meeting with the AKP's Istanbul branch last month, seeking input from district heads, youth representatives and women's branch members to aid in the selection process.

Originally scheduled for mid-December, the candidate announcement for Istanbul was postponed to the end of the month and later to the new year. Istanbul, a stronghold of the AKP and its predecessors for decades since 1984 when Erdoğan was first elected as mayor, witnessed a historic shift in 2019 when the united opposition led by Republican People's Party's (CHP) Ekrem İmamoğlu secured victory.

İmamoğlu, also backed by the İYİ (Good) Party, initially faced challenges when the election watchdog YSK annulled the initial results, citing irregularities and illegalities. In the subsequent rerun, İmamoğlu emerged triumphant with 54.21 percent of the votes, prompting AKP candidate Binali Yıldırım to concede defeat.

With İmamoğlu once again announced as the...

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