Turkey’s main opposition won a decisive victory in Istanbul’s re-run election on Sunday, dealing one of the biggest blows to President Erdoğan during his 16 years in power.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayoral candidate of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), won 54% of the vote with nearly all ballots counted, Turkish broadcasters said, while Erdoğan’s AK Party (AKP) candidate won 45% of the vote.
“In this city today, you have fixed democracy. Thank you Istanbul,” Imamoglu told supporters on Sunday.
“We will build democracy in this city, we will build justice. In this beautiful city, I promise, we will build the future,” he said.
Erdoğan congratulated opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu on Twitter on Sunday for winning the election according to unofficial results.
Opposition leader hails “new beginning” for Istanbul
Reacting to early results, İmamoğlu hailed a new beginning for Istanbul and said he was ready to work with President Erdoğan to serve the city.
Istanbul voted in Ekrem İmamoğlu of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on March 31, but the Supreme Electoral Council annulled the vote after the ruling AKP party alleged that there were irregularities.
In March, İmamoğlu won the election in Istanbul by a slim margin of just 24,000 votes in a city of more than 10 million voters. Just 18 days after taking the seat, the governor of Istanbul took over İmamoğlu’s seat as acting mayor.
İmamoğlu was previously mayor in one of Istanbul’s districts. He is supported by the Pro-Kurdish HDP, the Islamist SP and the Good Party, another ultra-nationalist party founded by former members of MHP. İmamoğlu says he will be more transparent and be more cautious on spending.
Yıldırım was Turkey’s last prime minister before the country transitioned to a fully presidential system. He is backed by the ultra-nationalist party MHP. Yıldırım promised Istanbul residents solutions for the heavy traffic.
Between 1994 and 1998, Erdoğan was mayor of Istanbul. Erdoğan has said that the party ruling Istanbul is the party that rules Turkey.
The election will be pivotal in determining the extent of the Erdoğan’s grip on power in the country, roughly a fifth of Turkey’s population lives in Istanbul.