Turkey: Huge setback for Erdogan's party as opposition sweeps mayoral polls

CHP is also leading in another city, Izmir


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) received a major setback after the opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) claimed victory in Istanbul and Ankara local elections, christening Ekrem Imamoglu as mayor of Istanbul.

CHP politician Mansur Yavas claimed victory as the capital city Ankara's mayor. In Istanbul, CHP defeated the AK Party candidate by more than one million votes. Imamoglu won the mayoral elections in 2019 too. 

CHP is also leading in another city, Izmir. According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, CHP prevailed in 36 of 81 provinces in Turkey. 

President Erdogan, in a speech from the balcony of the presidential palace, said, “We will correct our mistakes and redress our shortcomings,” and said that his party had 'lost altitude' across the country. 

70-year-old Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2002, said, the elections would mark "not an end for us but rather a turning point". During the campaign, Erdogan had indicated that it would be his last. His term ends in 2028.

Imamoglu, experts say, could be a worthy rival to Erdogan. Both Erdogan and Imamoglu have been mayors of Istanbul, both have family roots in the eastern Black Sea region. Reportedly, both of them were keen footballers.

“The surprising outcome” was the result of voters wanting to punish the governing party over the state of the economy, Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based Edam think tank, told AP.

AKP and Erdogan's ratings were low in opinion polls, due to soaring inflation and the dissatisfied Islamist voter. Besides, Imamoglu's secular politics managed to reach beyond the CHP's secular base.

"Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens sent a message to both our rivals and the president," Imamoglu, a former businessman told jubilant supporters on Sunday night. 


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