A popular candidate withdraws in favour of the incumbent party – but his name stays on the ballot
It lasted barely two weeks.
On 18 February – registration deadline day – Adana’s ousted former mayor Aytaç Durak stunned locals by announcing he would be running again for the seventh time.
His candidacy had the effect he intended: by using his personal popularity to draw voters away from both the AK Party and the MHP, Mr Durak turned the race for Adana’s mayoralty into a four-way race that added himself and the CHP.
After Ahmet Türk in Mardin, his was easily the most exciting independent candidacy.
Alas, it did not survive. On Tuesday, Mr Durak announced he was withdrawing from the contest and backing his former colleague Hüseyin Sözlü, the MHP candidate who is mayor of Adana’s Ceyhan district.
He said the AK Party from which he was ejected “could not digest” the subsequent electoral loss he inflicted on them with the MHP in 2009. This was why, Aytaç Durak said, he was removed from his position by the Interior Ministry.
“I will stand by Ceyhan mayor Hüseyin Sözlü to deliver a definitive result at the ballot box,” he added.
It certainly had an effect. Sonar, a pro-opposition polling company, reported the MHP had shot ahead in Adana following Mr Durak’s withdrawal. Artı-1 reports the MHP far ahead on 39.3%, CHP on 27% and AK Party on 26.4%.
But there is a snag: Mr Durak’s withdrawal is two days late for him to be removed from the ballot paper, so it will still technically be possible to vote for him. Local websites have reported rumours that the oversight was deliberate and that Mr Durak is actually exerting revenge on the MHP for not supporting him through his removal from office.
The question is this: how many Adana people will see the popular Aytaç Durak’s name on their ballots on 30 March and vote for him, not knowing he has withdrawn?