Istanbul Mayor sets off for provinces amid presidential candidacy debate

Istanbul Mayor sets off for provinces amid presidential candidacy debate
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Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has decided to visit the provinces as opposition parties in Turkey continue their efforts to name a presidential candidate less than four months before the election

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu will visit 15 provinces of Turkey in the coming weeks in what amounts to a campaign tour and makes him appear to be one of the most important potential to be nominated as the opposition's joint candidate in the upcoming elections against President Tayyip Erdogan.

The Istanbul Municipality said Imamoglu would begin his tour in Kastamonu on Friday and later continue in cities from which many Istanbul residents hail.

Imamoglu will later travel to Sivas, Malatya, Erzurum, Erzincan, Ordu, Tokat, Karabuk, Artvin and Giresun as well as Kurdish cities such as Dersim and Hakkari to attend inauguration ceremonies and meet people.

According to DW Turkish, Imamoglu has informed his CHP (Republican People's Party) about his trip. His visit to cities in the Black Sea region this summer sparked reactions within the party, as some said he made the trip on his own.

Ekrem Imamoglu came into the public spotlight in March 2019 when he defeated the AKP's mayoral candidate in Istanbul's local elections.

A prison sentence, which also carries a political ban if confirmed by the high court, made İmamoglu’s candidacy suspect. Still, he is seen by many as a strong potential challenger to President Tayyip Erdogan in next year's elections, especially by the nationalist opposition, which believes Imamoglu is more likely to appeal to conservative voters beyond his party's secular base.