Istanbul Mayoral Revote a Blow to Erdogan

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Opposition politician Ekrem Imamoglu won a repeat election (NYT) yesterday to become Istanbul’s mayor, according to preliminary results. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had ordered the rerun after Imamoglu won by a thinner margin in March.

Istanbul, long a political stronghold of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will now join several other major Turkish cities newly led (FT) by opposition figures. Imamoglu campaigned against what he called growing authoritarianism. His secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) allied (Economist) with Kurdish groups and sought out former AKP voters disaffected by economic hardship. Authorities annulled the results of the original election, spurring public outcry and higher voter turnout in the rerun.

“Istanbulites will be able to jump-start a process that could eventually lead to a stronger and more inclusive democracy than the one that preceded the AKP and the one the AKP initially tried to build,” Murat Somer writes for Foreign Policy.

“Losing Istanbul would mean losing a significant revenue source for AKP’s political machinery, ranging from subsidies to the party faithful to construction contracts and funds for pro-government media,” Asli Aydintasbas told the New York Times before the vote.

CFR’s Steven A. Cook explains why Turkish democracy under the AKP fell short of the label.

Clicj sources via