Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024
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Turkey’s Erdogan suffers election defeats in major cities | World | News

Turkey‘s main opposition party managed to pull off an unexpectedly huge victory in the local elections held on the weekend.

The large support granted by voters to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is being widely interpreted as Turkey’s criticism and dissatisfaction with its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The success of the party in cities such as Istanbul and Ankara was a particular blow for the country’s leader, as he had hoped his AK Party could regain control there.

Upon declaring he had secured a second term as mayor in Istanbul, CHP politician Ekrem Imamoğlu said on Sunday night: “My dear Istanbulites, you opened the door to a new future today.

“Starting from tomorrow, Turkey will be a different Turkey. You opened the door to the rise of democracy, equality and freedom … You ignited hope at the ballot box.”

The social democratic party triumphed in Istanbul by securing more than 50 percent of the vote and defeating the AK Party candidate by more than 11 points and almost one million votes.

The defeat in Istanbul must have been a particularly blistering one for Mr Erdogan, who served as mayor of the city from 1994 to 1998 and in recent days was at the forefront of the AK Party’s campaign to retake it.

Similarly, in Turkey’s capital city Ankara, opposition mayor Mansur Yavas was able to declare victory when less than half the votes were in as he was so far ahead of his rival.

Alongside retaining the leadership in Istanbul and Ankara – as well as in Izmir, Adana and Antalya – the CHP managed to win also in Turkey’s fourth-biggest city Bursa and Balikesir in the northwest.

Özgür Özel, the leader of the CHP, marked the success by telling the jubilant crowd in Istanbul: “These election results show that voters decided to establish a new politics in Turkey.”

Mr Erdogan, who was confirmed president for the third time last year, also addressed the public, albeit in front of a much more subdued crowd gathered at his party’s headquarters in Ankara.

He said: “Regardless of the results, the winner of this election is primarily democracy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the result we wanted in local elections … Everything happens for a reason. We will rebuild trust in places where our nation has chosen someone else.”

Addressing directly the crowd, the Turkish president also said: “I am madly in love with you.”

While Mr Erdogan has amassed increased powers over the years, Turkish mayors directly elected by voters through elections retain considerable influence.

Following the local elections, CHP is now in control of several areas in the west, south and north of Turkey, and the pro-Kurdish Dem party has been victorious in parts of the southeast.

On the other hand, the AK Party retains many backers in central Turkey and was successful in areas devastated by the earthquakes that struck in February last year.

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