The race for the Istanbul provincial chair in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has emerged as a critical test for the party’s leadership aspirations, with the city’s current head, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, ineligible to run again due to a political ban.
The contest to determine the new Istanbul head commenced, setting the stage for what is believed to be a prelude to a leadership struggle within the party.
The race has seen intense competition between the camps of Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who reportedly leads the intra-party opposition following the electoral defeat of the larger opposition bloc.
The process began with neighborhood delegates selecting the district administrations, and it is reported that Kılıçdaroğlu’s name held significant sway among these delegates, whose election processes concluded recently.
In the backstage, insiders claim that the incumbent administration secured 60 percent of the delegate majority against İmamoğlu’s camp. This majority is expected to bolster Kılıçdaroğlu’s group significantly in the district organizations, granting them an edge in the election for the provincial presidency.
However, there are doubts about whether they will be able to carry this advantage through to the party congress. Local media reports say if party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is re-elected in the upcoming congress, he might appoint Kaftancıoğlu as a chief advisor, a role that remains unaffected by her political ban.
Among the prominent names, Selçuk Sarıyar, who is known for his close association with Kılıçdaroğlu, stands out. Notably, Sarıyar was dismissed from his parliamentary group vice chair role in the Istanbul municipality by İmamoğlu some time ago.
On the other side, the candidate backed by İmamoğlu’s camp is claimed to be the party’s former vice leader, Onursal Adıgüzel. However, reports suggest that İmamoğlu might also prefer Cemal Canpolat, a former provincial head, as his candidate. Canpolat had previously contested against Kaftancıoğlu at the congress five years ago but lost.