President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost a re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral election on Sun (23 Jun) to Turkey’s primary opposition party by almost 777,000 votes, or 54 per cent of the total votes counted, according to the latest results.
The repeat was held following allegations of stolen votes during the initial election in Mar, which nearly witnessed opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu’s victory by a comparatively narrower margin of 13,000 votes, BBC reported.
İmamoğlu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) however will face a predominantly-AKP city council, which acts as a secondary governing body with the power to halt or affect his decisions as mayor of Istanbul, CNN reported.
Binali Yıldırım of AKP, İmamoğlu’s opponent, assured that his party will work together with CHP in governing Istanbul.
Yıldırım was one of the founding members of AKP and served as prime minister from 2016 until last year, prior to Turkey’s shift to a presidential democracy.
İmamoğlu said in his winning speech that the results signalled a “new beginning” for both Istanbul and Turkey.
“We are opening up a new page in Istanbul … On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love,” he said.
Erdoğan, whose pressure was allegedly behind the election board’s decision to call upon an election re-run, congratulated İmamoğlu in a tweet on Sun.
Turkish-American political scientist Soner Çağaptay told The Guardian that the repeat election “was a colossal strategic mistake” on the part of Erdoğan’s AKP.
“The campaign was an uncharacteristic mess. For the first time in a long time, [the AKP] were on the back foot here, running after the opposition, who dominated the narrative.
“Erdoğan has to do some serious house-cleaning in his government and reassess his policy making process to bounce back from this, or the suggestion that this is the beginning of his decline will get louder,” warned Çağaptay.