In a rerun election in Istanbul on Sunday, Turkey’s major opposition party claimed victory, giving President Tayyip Erdogan one of his 16 years in power’s heaviest blows and pledging a fresh start in the nation’s biggest city.
In a rerun election in Istanbul on Sunday, Turkey’s major opposition party claimed victory, giving President Tayyip Erdogan one of his 16 years in power’s heaviest blows and pledging a fresh start in the nation’s biggest city. With more than 99 percent of the ballots cast, Ekrem Imamoglu, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate for mayor, was ahead with 54 percent of the vote against Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) nominee’s 45 percent, according to Turkish broadcasters. Following the annulment of the results of the previous vote in March, Istanbul had its second election in three months, which served as a test of the Turks’ capacity to restrain what many viewed as their president’s escalating authoritarian power.
Imamoglu reminded his followers, “Today, 16 million Istanbul residents have refreshed our faith in democracy and revived our trust in justice.” He received congratulations and best wishes from his AKP rival, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, for serving Istanbul, Turkey’s business center. Erdogan congratulated the CHP candidate on Twitter as well. The Islamist-based AKP demanded a re-run of the March 31 mayoral election after Imamoglu narrowly prevailed, alleging what it claimed were voting irregularities.
Erdogan’s domestic detractors and Turkey’s Western allies both criticized the High Election Board’s decision to approve that request harshly, raising questions about the rule of law and the stakes for the rerun. Broadcasters estimated that the CHP had a lead of around 800,000 votes on Sunday, exceeding the margin of about 13,000 votes in March. The election board promised to make the results public as quickly as possible. Gulcan Demirkaya, 48, an AKP supporter from the city’s AKP-leaning Kagithane neighborhood, stated that while the original vote on March 31 was for mayor, this re-run was intended to abolish the dictatorship. In five years, she remarked, “God willing, I would want to see (Imamoglu) as the president.” “The one-man rule ought to be abolished. This is the first time.
Imamoglu, a former businessman and district mayor, claimed he was prepared to collaborate with the AKP to address Istanbul’s issues, such as the city’s traffic congestion and the needs of its Syrian refugees. Imamoglu conducted an inclusive campaign without criticizing Erdogan. He declared, “In this new chapter in Istanbul, there will now be justice, equality, love, and tolerance; whereas misusing (of public funds), pomp, arrogance, and the alienation of the other will end.” Imamoglu said that the Istanbul municipality, which has a budget of almost $4 billion, has misappropriated billions of lira. The transfer of power in the mayor’s office may provide more information on this claim.
Before beginning a career in national politics, Erdogan himself served as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990s. He went on to dominate Turkish politics as both prime minister and president. He oversaw years of rapid economic expansion. However, his detractors claim he has grown more dictatorial and intolerant of opposition. The president suffered a significant setback with the second defeat in Istanbul, which might also erode what had appeared to be his unbreakable hold on power. He launched a vigorous campaign and immediately accused Imamoglu of deceit and lying.
“Given the margin of victory, this will undoubtedly have an effect on Turkish politics in the future. For the AKP establishment, it’s a worrying warning “said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who is currently a visiting professor at Carnegie Europe in Brussels. According to analysts, Ankara may restructure its Cabinet and alter its foreign policy as a result of the loss. Possibly if the AKP’s nationalist ally’s head downplayed the possibility, it might even force an election sooner than 2023 as planned.
Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the MHP party, said that Turkey should immediately get back to business as usual and call an end to the electoral process. “One of the worst things we could do to our country is to talk about an early election,” The United States, Turkey’s NATO ally, has warned of sanctions if Erdogan moves forward with his plans to install Russian missile defenses even though the country’s economy is in decline. Financial markets have been on edge due to the uncertainty about Istanbul’s future and probable delays in more extensive economic changes. The decision to void the March election caused a decline in the value of the Turkish Lira, which has fallen over 10% this year due in part to election concerns. On Sunday night, it slightly increased.