Blow to Erdoğan: Turkish Opposition Wins Istanbul Mayoral Election by Larger Margin Second Time Around
Maybe the beginning of the end for Erdoğan’s ruling party?
We all know how much Turkish
dictator President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan loves his power. After all, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) has enjoyed a majority in the government for 25 years.
Back in March, the party received a blow when the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won the Istanbul mayoral election. Erdogan raised his iron fist and demanded a re-run.
Well, CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won again, but by an even more significant margin.
İmamoğlu received 54% of the vote while AKP candidate Binali Yıldırım received 45%. From The Guardian:
“We are starting a new page in Istanbul. On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love. Today 16 million Istanbullus have refreshed our belief in democracy,” İmamoğlu told supporters in a televised speech.
“I thank them all from my heart. You have shown the world that Turkey still protects its democracy. And we have shown other countries who try to go down the road we were choosing that it is no road at all.”
It looks like Erdoğan’s hissy fit in March caused people to race to the polls this weekend. From Hurriyet Daily News:
The Leyla Bayram Primary School in Istanbul’s Avcılar district on the European side had its busiest day on election day.
With more than 18,000 voters registered in the 53 ballot boxes placed in its classrooms, the school was the biggest polling station in Istanbul.
Fatma Tunca, a 77-year-old who recently had a hip surgery, was brought to a school in an ambulance in the Samandıra neighborhood on the Asian side to cast her vote. She was one of the elderly and disabled people who were escorted by officials to the ballot boxes.
The newly opened Istanbul Airport also witnessed a busy day with thousands of people flocking to the districts where their addresses are registered.
According to İbrahim Tansel from the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, the election offered an opportunity to see his friends.
Dursun Çağlayan from the Black Sea province of Trabzon told Demirören News Agency at the airport that his family had businesses in both cities.
“We will cast our votes as a family and go back to Trabzon,” he said.
Long lines of buses were observed at the Esenler Bus Terminal on the European side of the city starting from June 22.
Erdoğan has struggled the last few years by pounding on those who oppose him and censoring the media. The economy in Turkey has gone down the drain as well.
The election of İmamoğlu has helped Turkey in that aspect already. CNBC reported that the Turkish lira went up “5.7333 against the dollar Monday, up from a close 5.8140 Friday” while “Turkey’s BIST 100 stock index was trading higher around 2% Monday with Turkish banks the top gainers on the index.”
More than likely İmamoğlu will not have a comfortable tenure because Erdoğan will not give up. While the president said he is ready to work with the new mayor, I bet he will find ways to limit İmamoğlu’s powers.
Maybe the loss could spell further trouble for the ruling AKP party. From TIME:
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund, argued that the loss of Istanbul is likely to fuel speculation of divisions within the ruling party and among its supporters.
“It’s now clear that a sizable portion of the AKP voters is seriously dissatisfied by policies of the AKP,” he said. “The (opposition) was a house that was united. The AKP house looked like one that was already divided.”
He argued Erdogan is already facing an “a perfect storm” this summer. Erdogan was already at odds with Western allies over Turkey’s plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system and its challenge of EU-member Cyprus over natural gas drilling rights.
Turkish-American political scientist Soner Çağaptay explained the redo election “was a colossal strategic mistake” for the AKP. It also did not help that AKP’s campaign for the election “was an uncharacteristic mess.” He warned that “Erdoğan has to do some serious house-cleaning in his government and reassess his policy making process to bounce back from this, or the suggestion that this is the beginning of his decline will get louder.”
While we should celebrate İmamoğlu’s victory, we cannot take our eyes off of Erdoğan. He will not go down without a fight.
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