How Turkey’s Local Elections Turned Into a Defeat for Erdogan

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a fresh mandate in parliamentary and presidential elections last summer. But he suffered a stinging defeat against the main opposition party in municipal elections held March 31 amid rampant inflation and the highest borrowing costs since the president swept to power more than two decades ago. The election results showed voters across the country turning against Erdogan’s AK party, but the swing was especially dramatic in the cities of Istanbul, the country’s commercial hub, and Ankara, the capital. The tally cemented Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu’s status as Erdogan’s top opponent.

Imamoglu’s Republican People’s Party, known as CHP, won 37.8% of the vote to AKP’s 35.5%, according to results published by state broadcaster TRT. AKP was set to win the mayor’s seat in 24 cities, down from 39 in 2019. CHP was leading the race in 35 provinces, compared with 21 in the last election, TRT reported. In Istanbul, CHP won 51.1% compared to 39.6% for AKP. In Ankara, CHP got 60.4% of the vote versus AKP’s 31.8%. Some of the decline in the vote for the ruling AKP was due to the decision by the pro-Islamic New Welfare Party to field its own candidates, bringing the alliance between the two to an end. Mayors running under the party’s banner got more than 6% of the vote, according to early results. Still, the biggest issue in the contest was the economy.

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