Stunning landslide rejection of Erdogan's party as Istanbul elects its new mayor
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Islamist president of Turkey, attained national office after first serving as mayor of Istanbul, the mega-city that contains roughly 20% of the population of Turkey and which accounts for a third of that nation's GDP. Now the city that birthed his national career has rejected the his party's candidate for mayor in a stinging rebuke.
Turkish opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the redo of the Istanbul mayor's race by a landslide on Sunday, in a stinging indictment of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and increasingly autocratic ways.
According to state-run Anadolu news agency, Imamoglu of the CHP party won 54% of the vote, and the ruling AK Party's candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim captured 45%, with more than 95% of ballot boxes opened. AK Party had narrowly lost the March 31 election, and the broad margin this time for the political upstart telegraphed undeniably that voters are concerned about the crumbling of Turkey's democratic foundations and an economy reeling from a spike in consumer prices and unemployment.
Istanbul's voters seem to have resented to do-over election and many former AK Party voters switched to the opposition.
Caricature of President Erdoğan by Donkey Hotey.
There will not be another do-over, but Erdoğan probably will not accept the voters' verdict without pushback:
Erdogan, who had challenged Imamoglu's win in the original ballot, said last week that he would accept the outcome of the race but hinted that legal troubles could await the opposition candidate. (snip)
Erdogan would have other levers of power to assert his will over the city. The party commands a majority on the municipal council, and together with an ally, leads 25 of Istanbul's 39 districts.
With Turkey's capital city Ankara already in opposition hands, Erdoğan is dependent on rural support, where more religiously conservative Turks tend to support Erdoğan's Islamist rhetoric and authoritarianism, even as it drives out foreign investment and tourism, leading to the economic stagnation.