The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) higher-ups have decided to accept 1,650 applications from a total of 5,599 candidate hopefuls who wish to be nominated as parliamentary candidates in the June 12 general elections.
The would-be candidates are expected to represent all segments of society in Turkey. The list of candidates will later be forwarded to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a final decision. The AK Party plans to send its list to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on April 11.
The 1,650 candidates will be picked based primarily on the results of surveys carried out in the candidates’ respective hometowns. The results will determine whether the hopefuls are nominated as deputy candidates in the approaching elections.
The AK Party’s candidate list is claimed to reflect an increase in the number of female candidates. The ruling party plans to have at least 60 female candidates elected to Parliament from its ranks. If it manages this, the AK Party will become the first political party in the history of Turkey to have so many female deputies.
All segments of society represented
The candidate list of the AK Party will have members from all segments of society, including Alevis, Kurds, Syriacs, Roma, Circassians, Bosnians, Albanians and immigrants from Bulgaria and Greece. The AK Party plans to nominate over 20 Alevi candidates from provinces largely populated by Alevis, who are known to traditionally vote for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but the AK Party is hoping to appeal to Alevi voters in the upcoming elections.
Melkon Karaköse and Herman Balyan, both of Armenian descent, are expected to be on the AK Party’s list of parliamentary candidates. Karaköse has been a member of the AK Party for two years now. He is believed to be close to the party because of its support for the Law on Foundations, which enables foundations run by non-Muslim communities to own property and receive financial assistance from the state. The AK Party is also reportedly in close contact with Bedros Şirinoğlu, head of the Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation, to nominate him for the parliamentary elections. It is not yet clear whether he will be nominated or not.
The AK Party also plans to nominate Syriac candidates in the elections. Turkey’s Syriac community lent strong support to the government-sponsored constitutional amendment package, which was voted on in a referendum in September of last year, saying the package would contribute to Turkey’s democratization efforts. Markus Ürek is strongly expected to be the AK Party’s Syriac candidate and will probably be nominated from Mardin or Şırnak, both of which have large Syriac populations.
Singer Ayhan Küçükboyacı, better known as “Balık Ayhan,” is expected to represent the Roma people of Turkey for the AK Party in the next elections. Balık Ayhan participated in a Jan. 3 AK Party group meeting in which Erdoğan noted that the party’s official policies aligned with the artist’s own views. The AK Party won the hearts of Turkey’s Roma when it launched a democratic initiative in 2009 to address problems faced by the Roma.
The AK Party is also planning to nominate journalist Şamil Tayyar, better known for his books on the Ergenekon terrorist organization; Professor Mümtaz’er Türköne, a political scientist, and social security expert Resul Kurt. Prominent names from the Turkish bureaucracy have also chosen to apply to the AK Party for candidacy in the elections.
Among these are former Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) President Erdoğan Bayraktar, former state-owned Meat and Fish Institution (EBK) General Manager Bekir Ulubaş and former State Waterworks Authority (DSİ) Deputy General Manager Haydar Koçaker, along with Reyhan Gazel, deputy chairwoman of the Prime Ministry’s Administration for Disabled People.
The AK Party is also attractive to prominent names from the showbiz and sports world. Among those who applied to be nominated for the elections from the ruling party are singers İbrahim Tatlıses, Yasemin Kumral Şimşek, Metin Şentürk, Cengiz Kurtoğlu, director Mesut Uçakan, actor Eşref Ziya Terzi and footballers Hakan Şükür and Tanju Çolak.