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Local politician: Türkiye votes: Will Erdogan’s AKP win back Istanbul?

Local politician: Türkiye votes: Will Erdogan’s AKP win back Istanbul?

In 2019, the opposition handed Erdogan and his AKP a painful loss. She won local elections in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Can the ruling party take back the cities?

Around ten months after incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in the presidential election, his Islamic conservative party AKP is being tested again for the first time. Around 61 million people in 81 provinces are called to elect mayors, municipal councilors and other local politicians today.

What will be particularly exciting will be whether Erdogan’s AKP will succeed in winning back the metropolis of Istanbul and the capital Ankara from the opposition. In Istanbul, the country’s economic and cultural center, there could be a neck-and-neck race between AKP candidate Murat Kurum (47) and incumbent mayor Ekrem Imamoglu (53) from the center-left CHP party .

Election under difficult circumstances

The election is taking place under difficult circumstances: the poor economic situation in the country and high inflation could cost Erdogan’s party votes. Many complain about rising food prices and skyrocketing rents; According to a survey, many young people would like to leave the country. The opposition, which was still united in the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023, is considered divided and is no longer running as a unit.

Imamoglu wrested power in Istanbul from Erdogan’s ruling AKP in 2019, ending 25 years of rule by Islamic conservative parties. The AKP had the election canceled at the time. In the second round, Imamoglu won by an even larger margin – this is considered the worst setback in Erdogan’s political career. Erdogan’s political rise began in Istanbul when he was elected mayor in 1994.

Election campaigns are considered unfair

Should Imamoglu win again, his position as a possible challenger to Erdogan will be strengthened. However, if the AKP candidate wins, observers warn that Erdogan could feel encouraged to explore new limits. He could therefore seek a constitutional change in order to secure another term in office, which the current constitution prohibits.

The election campaign is considered unfair – a large part of the media in Turkey is under direct or indirect government control. A delegation from the Council of Europe and the Left Party is observing the elections on site. Thousands of volunteers are also supposed to ensure an orderly process. Shortly before the vote, the Oy ve Ötesi association said it had been able to recruit 30,000 volunteers. That is more than in the local elections in 2019 but significantly less than in the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023, for which 200,000 people registered as election workers.

Polling stations are open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. CEST in the east of the country and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. CEST in the west. The first official results are expected later on Sunday evening.

Source: Stern

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