Erdogan's AK party faces setback as opposition surges in Turkish local elections

Concerns for Erdogan as opposition wins Istanbul, Ankara in local polls

Web Desk
Opposition gains ground: Turkish elections signal shift in major cities. — Reuters/File
Opposition gains ground: Turkish elections signal shift in major cities. — Reuters/File 

In a watershed moment for politics in Turkey, the one main opposition party in the country finds itself plunging ahead in the highly symbolic metropolises of Istanbul and Ankara during tense local elections.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition mayor of Istanbul who secured the mayoralty in 2019, remarked that he was pleased with the already given outcome, saying: "The picture pleases us greatly."

After Turkey's leading person, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ran again for the presidency in 2019, he was more resolved to reclaim Istanbul, the city he grew up in, and the former domain of Istanbul mayoralty. Indeed, the night belonged to those critical of the government, with their candidates virtually making the headway.

Counting 80% of votes in Istanbul, Mr Imamoglu is still keeping up his lead by more than 10 points against Ak Party’s rival Erdogan’s party. However, the secular centre coalition's Mansur Yavas took a lead in the capital city of Ankara with 59% of votes, thus far announcing a win even when half of the votes remained to be counted.

Significantly, the main opposition party, CHP, also predicted a promising outcome in some other prominent cities within Turkey such as Izmir, Bursa, and Antalya which may signify a possible change in the country’s political atmosphere.

Admitting the CHP electorate's decisive choice towards change, Party Chief Ozgur Ozel described the voters as the creators of a historical shift in Turkish politics. He said: “They are the ones trying to open a door to a new political climate in our country.”

Mainstream opinion among supporters echoed optimism for the future with people chanting "Everything is going to be great," in the Sarachane district of Istanbul, which is a historical centre.

Although the outcome of the local elections could have a national and even international influence - after all, Istanbul alone has more than 20% of Turkey's population, and its economy plays a significant role too - the trend could portray a new political direction of Turkey.