The Debate - Erdogan fatigue? Turkish president suffers setbacks in local elections

Apr 03, 2019, 01:30
The Debate - Erdogan fatigue? Turkish president suffers setbacks in local elections

The AKP said it had "plenty of" evidence of voting irregularities in Istanbul.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi: CHP) candidate for Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoğlu, is greeted by supporters on 1 April, celebrating his preliminary victory against the ruling party candidate.

"They robbed us of our will and we overturned this", said Abdullah Elmas, a resident of Diyarbakir, the region's biggest city.

The capital city was held by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years.

Yıldırım, who played an important role in the foundation of the AK Party, first won a seat in Parliament as a deputy for Istanbul in the fall 2002 elections and served the country as the transport, maritime affairs and communications minister in the 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st and 64th governments.

The ruling AK Party is ready to prove serious irregularities that may change the election results in Istanbul, the party's Provincial Chairman Bayram Şenocak also said yesterday.

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In turn Dr. Abdullah Aydogan said that prior to the elections he was more skeptical and was thinking that Erdogan would not let opposition win in Ankara and Istanbul. In Ankara, the CHP has won 50.9% of the votes while the AKP garnered 47%.

More than 57 million people in the country were registered to vote for mayors and councillors.

Even though Erdogan is firmly entrenched in an all-powerful presidency after winning re-election past year, political analysts do see the elections for mayors and city councils as a referendum on what is described as his authoritarian style of rule. The opposition also increased its support along the Mediterranean, taking the city of Adana from the nationalists and the resort destination of Antalya from the ruling party.

A strategic decision by a pro-Kurdish party to sit out critical races in major cities contributed to the opposition's gains.

On Tuesday the lira weakened as much as 2 percent against the dollar on concerns about renewed tensions with the United States after it halted delivery to Turkey of equipment related to the F-35 fighter aircraft.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory.

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Analysts told Middle East Eye that Erdogan considered the city to be of particular importance, not only because of its status as Turkey's economic and cultural capital, but because it is his hometown, from where he was propelled to national prominence after serving as mayor from 1994 to 1998.

"This will certainly lead to an emerging new political landscape in Turkey", he said.

Despite eking out majority support across the country, defeat for Erdogan's Islamist-rooted party in Ankara was a significant blow for the president.

He argued, however, that a pause in elections until 2023 would benefit Erdogan.

Investors were also weighing up a statement on Monday from rating agency Moody's, which said the erosion of Turkey's foreign currency reserves is a credit negative and that their use to prop up the lira poses renewed questions about the central bank's independence.

The government has replaced 95 elected officials since 2016 for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

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