Opposition Secures Wins in Istanbul and Ankara, Dealing Blow to Erdogan

Turkey’s opposition claims victory in Istanbul, Ankara in blow to Erdogan

Istanbul’s Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu celebrates a significant victory, dealing a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s enduring dominance in Turkish politics, which has lasted for over two decades.

Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has asserted triumph in both Istanbul and Ankara in the local elections, marking the most substantial setback for Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) since their rise to power.

In Istanbul, with over 95 percent of the ballot boxes counted, Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu declared victory over Erdogan’s AK Party candidate by a margin exceeding 1 million votes. Addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters, Imamoglu emphasized the significance of understanding the message conveyed by the nation through this election.

“Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens sent a message to both our rivals and the president,” Imamoglu, a former businessman, asserted.

Similarly, in the capital, Ankara, CHP’s Mayor Mansur Yavas claimed success over his opponent, interpreting the outcome as a decisive message to the country’s leadership. Furthermore, the CHP held the lead in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city.

Opposition Secures Wins in Istanbul and Ankara, Dealing Blow to Erdogan
Opposition Secures Wins in Istanbul and Ankara, Dealing Blow to Erdogan (Credits: The Kathmandu Post)

The CHP secured victories in 36 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, as reported by state-run Anadolu, marking a significant shift in many areas traditionally dominated by the AK Party.

The streets of Istanbul were flooded with opposition supporters celebrating the election results, with tens of thousands gathering, illuminating the night with torches and waving Turkish flags.

In response, President Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2002, acknowledged the diminishing support for his party nationwide, pledging to reflect on their mistakes and address any shortcomings.

The defeat in these local elections is reminiscent of the setback Erdogan faced in the 2019 Istanbul mayoral race, where Imamoglu emerged victorious, marking a personal blow for Erdogan, who had previously served as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990s.

Sunday’s local elections hold significance beyond mere municipal governance, serving as a barometer of Erdogan’s enduring support and the opposition’s resilience, particularly amidst economic challenges such as soaring inflation and a weakening Turkish currency against the dollar.

According to Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based Edam think tank, the unexpected outcome reflects voters’ desire to rebuke the ruling party over economic grievances, positioning Imamoglu as a formidable candidate for the opposition in future presidential elections.

In essence, the results of these local elections mark a significant turning point in Turkish politics, signaling a potential shift in power dynamics and setting the stage for broader political developments in the country.

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