Wednesday, April 24

Turkey’s Opposition Leader Ekrem Imamoglu Wins Istanbul Mayoral Election

Edited by Fazal Rahman Chembulangad

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a major blow in the nationwide local poll held on Sunday. The opposition force reaffirmed its political strength with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) defeating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party’s candidate by more than one million votes. With the victory, Ekrem Imamoglu is viewed as a potential future president.

As the vote counts ended, Imamoglu secured the country’s largest city Istanbul Mayoral race leading by 10 percent points. Imamoglu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) also retained the capital city Ankara and secured a total of 15 other mayoral seats in cities across the country.

The victory of Ekrem Imamoglu, Turkey’s main opposition party’s candidate against the Erdogan-backed candidate has inflicted a heavy blow on president Erdogan, and the development is analysed to have challenged the invincibility of the president.

The defeat reportedly marked the worst in more than two decades for the AKP and Erdogan. The party reportedly suffered more than the opinion polls and prediction, with the president terming it as “a turning point.” The development also shows the change in the political behaviour of Turkey.

In 2019, Imamoglu first secured Istanbul, bringing the 25-year-long rules of the city by AKP to an end. Though the president was re-elected in 2023 with the support of his nationalist allies, the economic strains and inflations have significantly moved voters against the ruling AKP party.

Addressing the people after securing mayoral victory, Imamoglu stated that those who do not understand the nation’s message will eventually lose. The opposition party supporters gathered in Istanbul to celebrate the victory and waved country’s flag.

The president in his address noted that the party’s alliance lost altitude in the country, and said that he would self-respect and rectify the mistakes.