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Turkey’s opposition set to hold power in major cities, partial results show

In News, World
April 01, 2024

Partial results in local elections show CHP candidates ahead of their AK Party rivals in Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) appears set to retain its control over key cities, according to preliminary partial results from the country’s local elections.

With 49 percent of ballot boxes opened in Istanbul on Sunday, Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu from the CHP led with 50.05 percent of the vote against 41.2 percent for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AK Party, candidate Murat Kurum.

In Ankara, with 29.2 percent of ballot boxes opened, Mayor Mansur Yavas of CHP led with 58.2 percent against 34.1 percent for the Erdogan-backed candidate.

The CHP was also ahead in Izmir, Turkey’s third city, and a party stronghold.

State-run Anadolu news agency published partial official tallies showing the CHP leading in big cities such as Izmir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana.

“Based on the data we have obtained, I can say that our citizens’ faith in us has been rewarded,” Imamoglu told reporters at the CHP’s Istanbul headquarters.

“The picture we have seen now pleases us greatly, but no election is finalised before it is over,” he said.

Ahead of casting his vote, Erdogan said: “This election will mark the beginning of a new era for our country.”

In the previous elections in 2019, the CHP’s Imamoglu dealt Erdogan and his AK Party the biggest electoral blow of his two decades in power when he won the race to be mayor of Istanbul. This loss also struck a personal note for Erdogan, who was born and raised in the city and served as its mayor in the 1990s.

Sunday’s local elections appear to represent a fresh blow to the president, who had set his sights on retaking control of those urban areas.

Some 61 million people were eligible to vote for mayors across Turkey’s 81 provinces, as well as provincial council members and other local officials on Sunday.

The nationwide local elections are seen by analysts and civilians as a gauge of both Erdogan’s support and the opposition’s durability.

“Imamoglu is fine and does what he should as mayor, but he does not compare with Erdogan,” AK Party voter and retiree Omer told Reuters in Istanbul.

If Erdogan won back Istanbul and Ankara, he would have an incentive to “amend” the constitution to stand for re-election for a fourth term, Bayram Balci, a political scientist at France’s Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, an Imamoglu victory would make him a potential opponent to Erdogan’s ruling AK Party in the next presidential election in 2028.

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