President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) leader Devlet Bahçeli have begun discussions on their joint efforts for the upcoming 2024 local elections in Turkey. Following their successful collaboration in the presidential and parliamentary elections last May, the leaders are now focusing on their strategy for local elections. This move comes in the wake of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) congress, where key strategists from both parties will determine the candidates for major metropolitan cities, seeking approval from their respective leaders.
During a recent meeting at his Ankara residence, Erdoğan and Bahçeli discussed the road ahead for the local election process, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between their parties. These discussions will continue beyond the AKP congress, with involvement from both leaders and their top advisors.
President Erdoğan instructed the initiation of local election campaigns during a Central Decision and Administrative Board (MKYK) meeting of the AKP, held on Monday. He emphasized the need to select candidates and establish strategies, particularly for major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Erdoğan noted that the provinces not under the administration of the “People’s Alliance” were lagging behind those that were, stressing the importance of correct candidate selection for these areas.
In addition, the MKYK meeting set the date for the 4th Extraordinary Congress of the AKP as October 7th. This congress is expected to usher in a new leadership and prepare the AKP for the upcoming local elections. To discuss preparations for the congress, a “Strategy Team” will convene for a meeting on Thursday.
Unity in Elections: Erdoğan and Bahçeli Address Akşener’s Call
The recent call by Meral Akşener, the leader of the İYİ Party, for all parties, including the AKP, CHP, and MHP, to participate in the elections separately, also drew attention during the Erdoğan-Bahçeli meeting. It is expected that in the coming days, Erdoğan will issue a statement emphasizing the importance of conducting the elections with the unity of the “People’s Alliance,” following the October 7th congress.
After the congress, AKP and MHP officials, alongside their leaders, will come together to select candidates for 30 metropolitan municipalities, 51 provincial municipalities, and districts. They will also hold discussions with other allies of the People’s Alliance, including the Rebirth Party (Yeniden Refah Partisi), the Grand Unity Party (Büyük Birlik Partisi), and external supporters such as the DSP and HÜDAPAR.
Forming Alliances and Strategies: Which Cities Will Cooperate?
The evaluation of the performance of current AKP and MHP mayors has begun, as well as assessments of the current mayors from both parties. Analyses are also underway to understand why joint candidates lost in certain provinces during the 2019 local elections. These analyses will be shared with the MHP, helping to clarify collaboration plans for each province.
The announcement of candidates is expected to commence in November, officially launching election campaigns for metropolitan municipalities in January.
Targeting Istanbul and Ankara
The primary objective of the People’s Alliance in these preparations is to secure victories in Istanbul and Ankara. While the MHP is expected to support the AKP candidate in both major cities, Erdoğan will consult with Bahçeli regarding candidate selections. It is speculated that a candidate with a nationalist background may be nominated to run against Mansur Yavaş in Ankara.
AKP strategists argue that the opposition appears disorganized and chaotic. They believe that starting work early will instill confidence in the electorate. These strategists emphasize the importance of systematic planning and assert that the positive economic outlook anticipated in the new year will also influence the elections.