Turkey’s opposition in the election battle to capture the capital cities | Election News

Istanbul, Turkey – All over the world, local elections do not attract more attention than the town hall, but in Turkey, voting for officials from municipal mayors to regional representatives for several weeks before the voting day.

Although he came out presidential and parliamentary elections Just 10 months ago, Turkish TV and newspapers have been full of news, opinions and debates on the local elections on March 31.

Across the country, voters will elect more than 23,000 officials but the main focus will be on the mayors who have been elected to run Turkey’s 30 largest cities.

This is especially true in Istanbul, the country’s most populous city and its financial center, where opposition victory in 2019 it was seen as a reversal of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s record of flawless elections.

The wealth of Istanbul

The victory of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Istanbul five years ago ended 25 years of rule of the city by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its predecessors.

The loss of Istanbul also struck a chord with Erdogan, who was born and raised in the city and served as its mayor in the 1990s.

Ejder Batur, vice chairman of the AK Party’s Istanbul branch, cited Erdogan as mayor as one of the factors that led to his success on the national stage and a sign of why local elections are meaningful.

Ekrem Imamoglu – candidate for mayor of Istanbul from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – speaks at a press conference after the local elections, in Istanbul, March 31, 2019 [Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo]

“He made great contributions and services to the daily life of Istanbulites…

“Istanbul has significance in every election and major cities now have CHP mayors except Bursa, the fourth largest city,” CHP Vice Chairman Ilhan Uzgel said.

The 2019 Istanbul results were shown in the capitals of Ankara and Antalya, leaving the CHP in control of four major cities, which account for a third of Turkey’s population.

Returning to Istanbul will also give the AK Party the chance to ditch its CHP Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is seen as a future presidential contender.

This year’s election will see 35 parties participating across Turkey. The level of participation is that voters in Istanbul will be given a ballot paper about one meter (3 feet) wide to accommodate 49 mayors, including 27 independents.

The race in Istanbul, however, will be mainly between incumbent Imamoglu and AK Party candidate Murat Kurum, a former environment minister.

Research shows that the competition is neck and neck. Metropoll, one of Turkey’s most respected pollsters, put Imamoglu 3.3 percentage points ahead of Kurum in its February survey.

To resolve the objection

In order to secure a majority in the parliament and another five-year presidency last year, the AK Party and Erdogan – who has been in power for 20 years – defeated the opposition.

Across the country, the biggest difference in the 2019 mid-term elections is the collapse of the opposition coalition after last year.

The nationalist IYI Party has split from the CHP while the pro-Kurdish party – now known as the DEM Party – has also decided to suspend those who want to challenge the CHP, something it did not do in 2019.

Metropoll data from January and February show a decline in Imamoglu’s support among voters from these groups, the two main opposition groups after the CHP.

Last month, 32 percent of DEM Party voters supported Imamoglu, down from 35 percent in January, while the number of IYI Party supporters dropped from 64 percent to 45 percent.

The CHP is also reeling from losing the presidential and parliamentary elections last May.

They hoped Erdogan would end the economic crisis and the fallout from February’s devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey.

Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of New York-based international threat consultancy Teneo, said the local elections would be a “litmus test” for the CHP.

“The control of the opposition in the main cities of Turkey, especially Istanbul, is the last representation,” he said. “After last year’s elections, opposition voters were already disappointed. The outcome of the upcoming elections can be decisive [opposition] voter culture.”

Uzgel also acknowledged the “mental and emotional confusion” among CHP agents. “Things suddenly went wrong among the voters so we are trying to regain confidence in this election,” he said.


The AK Party, however, is facing a split between itself and the New Welfare Party (YRP) considering abandoning its alliance and becoming independent, a move that could take votes away from AK Party candidates.

“There is no possibility that the New Welfare Party will win the elections in the areas it is participating in but because it is participating … it increases the CHP’s chances of winning,” AK Party Vice Chairman Efkan Ala told the state-run Anadolu Agency earlier this month. this one.

However, commentators say that the party has AK Party. Erdogan has overseen the local campaign, appearing almost daily at rallies.

Turkey's President and Justice and Development (AK) Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a crowd during his party's rally ahead of national elections at Baskent Nation's Garden in Ankara, Turkey on March 23.
Turkish President and Justice and Development (AK) Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a crowd at his party’s rally ahead of regional elections at Baskent Nation’s Garden in Ankara on March 23, 2024. [Handout: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency via Anadolu]

Uzgel, meanwhile, feels the “problem of Erdogan’s politics” – his control over Turkish politics overshadowing the AK Party’s politics – could benefit “powerful” opponents like Imamoglu.

After last year’s earthquakes, the AK Party is focusing on its work to make urban areas less sensitive to earthquakes and improve transportation in cities with heavy traffic.

It has criticized Istanbul’s CHP-led government, saying it has failed to improve earthquake preparedness – to which the CHP has responded by criticizing the government’s frozen budget.

“[The CHP in Istanbul has] it has failed spectacularly, especially in terms of transport and seismically resistant urban transformation, and these two issues are very important to our citizens in Istanbul today,” said Batur.

The AK Party’s “people-oriented” policies, he added, could win even if the opposition “fails to fulfill the promises it made five years ago”.

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