In Turkey / Türkiye

Scene of Istanbul

Initial reflections from Turkey on the results of the Istanbul mayoral election replay on June 23 and how it could impact on President Erdoğan, the AKP government and the country.

Published on United World, June 23, 2019

A re-do of the election for mayor of Istanbul, a strategically important region, took place in Turkey today.

With  99% of ballots counted, the candidate from the opposition Republican People’s Party of Turkey, Ekrem Imamoglu, won with 54.0% of the vote.

His main rival was the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey, former prime minister and former speaker of Binali Yildirim, who won 45.1% of the vote. He is one of President Erdogan’s closest associates.

The First election

In the March 31 elections, Imamoglu won with 48.8% of the vote (13729 more votes than Yıldırım who pulled in 48.55%), but the results were contested by the AKP. The Electoral Commission launched a recount at several polling stations, but the results remained about the same.

While Imamoglu took office on April 17th,  the election commission agreed to the AKP’s appeal in May. Due to abnormalities and voting violations, new elections were scheduled for June 23.

Erdogan’s reaction

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan congratulated the opposition candidate on his victory.

“I hope the results of the election for mayor of Istanbul will bring good. Today, the people have once again expressed their will. Congratulations to Ekrem Imamoglu, who according to preliminary data, won the elections,” Erdogan wrote on Twitter.

Erdogan also promised to continue close cooperation in the framework of the “People’s Alliance”, which includes the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (PND) headed by him.

Will this affect Erdogan’s power?

The victory of the opposition in the key district, of course, hurts the image of the ruling party. Nevertheless, this will not seriously weaken Erdogan’s position. He has enough experience to keep a firm hold on power and continue his course (at least in terms of foreign policy).

The election results, on the contrary, could be an incentive for Erdogan to pay more attention to the domestic economic agenda and bring about much needed reforms. It is possible that he will change out part of the governing apparatus (bringing in younger members) and institute economic reforms on a quicker basis (such as a 100-day action plan). Thus, the election results are an incentive for Erdogan to pay more attention to the internal agenda in Turkey.


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