ISSN 2330-717X

Istanbul Election: Win For Opposition – OpEd


Turkey’s opposition strikes a blow to President Receb Tayyip Erdoğan with Istanbul mayoral win. This win represents a defeat for Erdoğan because his AKP Party has lost control over Turkey’s strategically most important city.

Although Binali Yildirim, the AKP’s candidate, 63, has received Erdoğan’s full support during the election, he had to acknowledge Sunday night’s defeat to the opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.

This win comes nearly two months after the first vote had been annulled following protests from Erdoğan’s Islamist AK Party, who claimed there had been widespread voting irregularities.

The suspense this time did not last long. On 23 June 2019, the opposition opponent İmamoğlu, 49, defeated Erdoğan’s candidate, breaking the myth of Erdoğan’s political invincibility.

“I congratulate him and wish him good luck, I hope he will serve Istanbul well,” Yildirim told the press after the announcement of first results that showed a significant victory for the opposition candidate.

İmamoğlu of the leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP) secured 54.21% of votes, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency. Around 4.7 out of 10 million Turks have voted for İmamoğlu in Istanbul.

With 3.9 million votes, his opponent Yıldırım lost 300,000 votes in comparison to previously annulled elections in late March 2019, which had been condemned by İmamoğlu. He described them as “unfair and illegal”. Unexpectedly this time, İmamoğlu gained about half a million.

“We came to embrace everyone,” Imamoglu said. “We will build democracy in this city, we will build justice. In this beautiful city, I promise, we will build the future.”

Erdoğan has always presented the results of Istanbul election as “a matter of survival” for Turkey. “Who wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”, a statement has been repeatedly emphasised by Erdoğan in recent months.

Due to a constitutional amendment in 2017, Erdoğan has increased his control of the country and attempted to confine power in the post of the president. In so doing, he has willingly or unwillingly become the person to blame for anything and everything goes wrong in the country.

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Hakim Khatib

Hakim Khatib is a political scientist and analyst works as a lecturer for politics and culture of the Middle East, intercultural communication and journalism at Fulda and Darmstadt Universities of Applied Sciences and Phillips University Marburg. Hakim is a PhD candidate in political science on political instrumentalisation of Islam in the Middle East and its implications on political development at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics and Culture Journal (MPC Journal).

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