Erdogan suffers a rare defeat in the Turkish local elections – Global News (Trending Perfect)


ISTANBUL – Turkey's main opposition party won a resounding victory in Sunday's local elections, handing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's worst defeat in an election that exposed voter anger at a deep and debilitating economic crisis.

Unofficial results showed that the opposition party, the Republican People's Party, is leading nationwide over the ruling Justice and Development Party led by Erdogan, by 37.7 percent compared to 35.5 percent, after 99.8 percent of the votes were counted, according to unofficial results. To the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey's opposition party claimed victory in elections in Istanbul, Ankara and other major cities on March 31, marking President Tayyip Erdogan's worst defeat. (Video: Reuters)

The elections for mayors and local council seats were the first national victory for the CHP in more than two decades as Erdogan was Turkey's dominant leader. This represents a stunning turnaround for the Republican People's Party less than a year after its candidate was defeated by Erdogan in the presidential race, which left the Turkish opposition in disarray.

But late Sunday, Erdogan appeared humble, amid signs of splits in the ruling party and opposition gains in conservative areas that were the mainstays of support for the president.

“We have lost momentum across the country,” Erdogan said in a speech late Sunday in the capital, Ankara. “We will honestly evaluate the election results and boldly engage in self-criticism.”

The election's big prize was Istanbul: a city of 16 million people, an economic powerhouse for Turkey and a launching point for Erdogan's historic political career after he served as the city's mayor. Ekrem Imamoglu, the current mayor of the Republican People's Party, defeated his rival from the ruling party on Sunday by a margin of just over a million votes, according to unofficial results.

The victory strengthened Imamoglu's position as Erdogan's strongest rival, less than five years after he rose to national prominence by wresting the city's mayor's seat from decades of AKP control. After a campaign focused on local issues — the revitalization of Istanbul, the city's earthquake preparedness — İmamoğlu declared victory late Sunday in more expansive terms, taking aim at Erdogan's authoritarian rule.

He said that Sunday “marks the end of democratic erosion in Turkey and the return of democracy.” “People oppressed under authoritarian regimes are now turning their sights to Istanbul.”

The results showed CHP candidates winning municipalities in 35 of Turkey's 81 provinces and retaining or taking control of the country's five largest cities — a landslide victory that left opposition supporters wondering what might have happened if they had fielded a more attractive candidate in last year's presidential race. . .

The disintegration of the opposition coalition after the defeat of that candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, did not harm the fortunes of the Republican People's Party on Sunday. In Istanbul, the results indicated that supporters of a major Kurdish opposition party that put forward its mayoral candidate voted for Imamoglu instead.

Erdogan's party appears to be plagued by defections, including defections in an Islamist party that criticized the Turkish leader for not cutting economic ties with Israel during the war in Gaza and received more than 6 percent of the national vote.

But it was Erdogan's handling of the economy that appeared to loom large in the race, as households suffered from runaway inflation and a plummeting currency value. Despite Erdogan's appointment last year of a well-respected economic team and his decision to allow the central bank to raise interest rates to their highest level in decades, inflation has remained at around 70 percent.

“It's all about the economy,” said Altan Parsin, a 56-year-old CHP supporter, who waited to cast his vote early Sunday in Istanbul's Gongoren district. He said he had voted for Erdogan's party before, a few years after it came to power, when it was “doing well.”

“I think their economic policies will have an impact on the election results,” he said.

Fatma Ansari, 50, another voter, said she was lukewarm towards İmamoğlu — “I don’t think he did much for Istanbul” — but would vote for him anyway, “as a reaction to the government.”

“I will vote because of the general situation in Turkey. The economy, education – we are not happy with any of that,” she said.

Fahim reported from Beirut.



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