Turkish opposition surges in local polls challenge Erdogan

Turkish opposition surges in local polls challenge Erdogan

Turkish opposition surges in local polls challenge Erdogan

Turkey’s opposition CHP has emerged victorious in Istanbul and Ankara with almost all ballot boxes counted. If verified, this outcome would deal a significant blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party.

Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu from the opposition party, declared victory in the re-election with almost all ballot boxes counted in Turkey’s biggest city.

It was a successful local election night for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), with wins in the capital Ankara, Turkey’s third largest city Izmir, and the southern city of Antalya.

The CHP secured the most mayoral seats in 81 cities according to unofficial preliminary results released by state news agency Anadolu, dealing a significant blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens have sent a clear message to both our opponents and the president,” Ekrem Imamoglu, the current mayor of Istanbul, told his supporters late on Sunday. “Thank you Istanbul,” he posted on X, previously known as Twitter.

Many Turkish citizens participated in the voting process to choose mayors and officials for their local government during the recent elections. This election served as a measure of Erdogan’s support, especially as his party aimed to regain control of important cities.

Istanbul, in particular, was a significant focus for the Turkish president, as it holds personal and political significance for him since he served as mayor there in 1994.

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Partial Results Infuse Opposition with Optimism

The opposition is feeling optimistic after the release of the initial results. “We are currently in the top position with a significant lead of over a million votes… We have emerged victorious in the election,” Imamoglu confidently announced to the press at the CHP’s Istanbul headquarters.

According to the Anadolu Agency, Murat Kurum, the AKP candidate who holds national power, secured approximately 40% of the votes.

The results indicated that Mansur Yavas, the incumbent mayor of Ankara, comfortably maintained his position with an impressive 25-point lead over his AKP rival. Yavas celebrated his victory by stating, “The elections have concluded, and we will continue to serve Ankara.”

In addition, the CHP was leading in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, and appeared to be ahead in 36 out of the country’s 81 provinces, as reported by state broadcaster TRT.

According to the Anadolu Agency, with 90% of all ballot boxes opened across all provinces, the CHP was leading with 37.32% of the votes, while the AKP had 35.78%.

This signifies that the CHP is leading the nation by nearly 1% of the votes, a remarkable achievement after 35 years.

Erdogan acknowledges the need for ‘self-criticism’

Turkish opposition surges in local polls challenge Erdogan

Addressing his supporters at the AK party headquarters in Ankara, Erdogan recognized that the election results were not what they had hoped for.

“We were unable to achieve the desired outcome in the local elections,” Erdogan stated.

“We will thoroughly evaluate the election results and bravely engage in self-criticism,” the 70-year-old leader added.

Around 61 million people, including over a million first-time voters, were eligible to vote for various positions in the elections.

According to Anadolu Agency, the voter turnout was approximately 76%.

Recap of 2019 election

In the 2019 elections, the CHP emerged victorious in Istanbul and Ankara, leading to a demand for a repeat of the Istanbul vote by the ruling party due to alleged irregularities. Despite this, the CHP managed to secure victory once again in the crucial battleground city.

Earlier this month, Erdogan, who previously served as the mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998, announced that the municipal elections would be his final ones. Erdogan has held power since 2003, initially as prime minister and later as president starting in 2014.

Following a constitutional amendment in 2017 that eliminated the position of prime minister, Erdogan gained full executive authority. In the presidential elections held in May of last year, Erdogan did not secure a majority of votes in the first round. However, in both 2014 and 2018, he won outright without the need for a runoff vote.

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