Ankara mayor strongest candidate against Erdoğan in possible election – pollster

Ankara’s popular mayor Mansur Yavaş from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) would be the strongest candidate to run against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a possible presidential election, Turkish pollster Area Research found.

From a total of 2,212 participants in 12 major provinces in Turkey, 47.7 percent said they would vote for Yavaş if he ran as the common candidate for the opposition, beating Istanbul’s CHP Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s 44.3 percent, according to the poll announced on Wednesday.

Centre-right opposition Good Party’s Meral Akşener, who served as Interior Minister in the 1990s, was behind İmamoğlu with 37 percent.

A total of 45.8 percent of participants said they would not vote for Erdoğan, while 37.9 percent said they would. Among those who voted for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in previous elections, 93.3 percent would vote for the president.

Former president Abdullah Gül and Ali Babacan, who resigned from AKP last year and recently established his own Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), came second-to-last and last in the poll respectively, with 21.2 and 16.2 percent saying they would vote for them.

However, only 70.6 percent of AKP voters said they would definitely not vote for Abdullah Gül, the lowest among the names included in the poll.

The poll also found that AKP’s junior partner in the ruling Cumhur (“Nation”) alliance, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), would not be able to overcome the 10 percent election threshold on its own, winning only eight percent of the national vote.

According to the poll, AKP would come in first with 39.1 percent of the vote, and the combined votes for opposition parties would be 44.8 percent, possibly making AKP lose parliamentary majority depending on the nationwide distribution of the votes.

Turkey’s next parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to be held together in 2023, but discussions of a snap election have accelerated since May, after AKP announced preparations for amendments to the elections act.

The recent conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a full time mosque, accompanied by a narrative of conquest and Ottoman-era imagery, is seen by some as a signal for snap elections. Ankara has repeatedly rejected such speculations.