Ankara mayor says has ‘no intention’ of running for president in 2023

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Ankara’s popular mayor, Mansur Yavaş, from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has said he has no intention of standing as a presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, local media reported on Thursday.

The mayor said his primary objective was to improve the lives of citizens in the capital.

“I’m primarily working to fulfill [my] promise of a rich Ankara. I have no intention of focusing on any other goal while I’m mayor. … Being a presidential candidate would be flattering, but I’m focusing on the goal of a rich Ankara,” Yavaş said on Thursday during a meeting with the Turkey representatives of foreign press outlets.

The mayor’s statement came after Meral Akşener, leader of nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, the CHP’s election ally, said earlier this week that they wouldn’t object it if Yavaş or İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, also affiliated with the CHP, stands as a presidential candidate in the 2023 elections.

According to the latest surveys, both mayors have a considerable nationwide lead, as much as 10 percent in some polls, over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a possible presidential election.

An attorney, Yavaş has been in politics since 1989, always in Ankara, where he became mayor of Beypazarı in 1999. He was elected Ankara mayor in 2019, ending the 25-year rule in the city of the AKP and its predecessors. The politician has growing public support due to his fight against corruption and efforts aimed at saving taxpayer dollars.

Erdoğan, however, has been accused by his critics of creating a one-man rule and destroying the separation of powers under the presidential system, which went into effect following a referendum in 2017, replacing the country’s parliamentary system and granting him vast powers while weakening parliament.

Saying that he has adopted a “transparent, participatory and accountable” management approach in the municipality he has been running for two years, Yavaş also said he had paid a debt of TL 3.2 billion ($332 million) his predecessor from the AKP left him with.

The mayor also underlined that recent polls showed his public approval rating at around 74 percent, adding that he aimed to increase that rating to at least 90 percent.

Last month Yavaş was named winner of the 2021 World Mayor Capital Award by the London-based City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank dedicated to urban affairs, for his “efforts and vision to build a metropolis that will equal the great capitals of Europe and Asia” as well as his support for “the poor and the most vulnerable segments of the society.”

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