Turkey: Erdogan Loses in Istanbul and Ankara

Opposition CHP party wins in 15 Turkish cities

“Whoever rules Istanbul rules Turkey,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led the country for 20 years, was fond of repeating.

That is why so much was spent to wrest Istanbul away from Ekrem Imamoglu of the People’s Republican Party (CHP). But voters turned away from Erdogan, and Imamoglu was re-elected with a 10-percentage point advantage over Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Murat Kurum. The latter was endorsed by the president. The capital, Ankara, also remains in favor of the CHP, which also wins in 15 other city governments.

The CHP secretary commented on the victory: “Our voters made a very important decision today. They decided to implement a new policy in Turkey. The CHP has achieved a historic result and decided how to govern our country and our municipalities.”

The March 31 local elections could be the worst defeat for Erdogan and the AKP after more than two decades in power.

The president called this session a “turning point.” “Unfortunately, we were unable to get the desired result in the election.”

According to analysts, the defeat is influenced by factors related to inflation, which brings the country’s economy to its knees and significantly affects the lives of the population, especially in major cities. Added to this, as in the case of Istanbul, is the popularity of the mayor, 54-year-old Ekrem Imamoglu. He was able to overcome some court misadventures (the opposition believed they were arranged to limit his rights). Now he is considered Erdogan’s likely opponent in the 2028 general election.

Even more obvious is the victory in Ankara of Mansur Yavas. The mayor was re-elected, winning by a margin of more than 20 pp. The CHP also won in Izmir, Turkey’s third city, as well as Adana and Mersin, and even in Bursa, the AKP’s historic fiefdom.