The mayoral race in Turkey’s fifth city, Adana, just got interesting.
Forget Istanbul; for sheer political tension, Adana might be the one to follow in this year’s local election. Turkey’s fifth largest city was already a credible target for all three main parties – and that was before the city’s very own comeback kid, Aytaç Durak, threw his hat into the ring just hours before the registration deadline. Now there are four contenders.
Mr Durak is a veteran of Adana politics, having run for mayor in every election since 1984 – six times in all – and won in all but one attempt. He oversaw the city’s rapid urbanisation and is responsible for much of its development, but a high profile spat with the prime minister and a spate of corruption allegations saw him removed from office in 2010.
He was finally cleared of all the charges in July 2013, but the council has since his removal been run in his stead by Zihni Aldırmaz, a colleague from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that Mr Durak switched to in 2009. Mr Aldırmaz has not been selected to run again; the MHP candidate will be Hüseyin Sözlü, the three-term mayor of Adana’s Ceyhan district.
His main rival will be the AK Party’s Abdullah Torun, a former MP for Adana who was leading in the few polls that have come from this town. Those polls were taken before Mr Durak’s surprise candidacy, however.
Against these three centre-right candidates is the centre-left Yıldıray Arıkan for the Republican People’s Party (CHP). candidate. He is mayor of Adana’s coastal Çukurova district and commands strong support in Adana’s coastal areas; with a vote divided three ways in the more conservative inland areas, Mr Arıkan’s candidacy may gather traction.
For more on Adana’s election 2014, click here.