Turkey’s Islamist opposition will not withdraw candidate in İstanbul mayoral race

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Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu (Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Handout)

The candidate for mayor of İstanbul from Turkey’s Islamist opposition party will not withdraw his bid from a re-run of the previous election, according to the Turkish media.

The Felicity Party’s (SP) Necdet Gökçınar, who garnered some 103,000 votes (nearly 1.2 percent) in the March 31 local election, told reporters on Tuesday that he would run for mayor again.

The SP had been considering withdrawing its nominee to support the opposition alliance, which won the election on March 31 by a razor-thin margin; however, party management signaled that their voters might easily swing to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

After an exhaustive recount of votes due to the AKP’s objections to the election board, the opposition’s Ekrem İmamoğlu was leading with some 14,000 votes ahead of the AKP’s Binali Yıldırım.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) last week canceled the İstanbul election results, setting a new election for June 23.

The AKP allied with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the local elections, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and İYİ (Good) Party formed an alliance that was supported by the Kurdish opposition.

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