Turkey: Local Elections on March 31

81 provinces and 30 megacities are voting, with key battles to be held in Istanbul and Ankara

A year after the presidential election that confirmed Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a third term, Turkey returns to the polls on March 31 for local elections.

The 61 million eligible voters will elect mayors and local administrators for 81 provinces in 30 metropolitan areas and 1351 districts, and Erdogan’s main goal will undoubtedly be to regain Istanbul, lost by his Justice and Development Party AKP.

“It is time to resume work where it has been interrupted, end this period of sludge and mud, and put ourselves back in the service of the public as we have done for 30 years. The city has returned to the problems of 1994, these were 5 lost years,” Erdogan explained at the rally, filmed by Italian journalist agency AGI.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican Party CHP won the last election in Istanbul. “We must save this city from the tyranny of CHP, and for that we will work day and night,” Erdogan continued, pushing his candidate Murat Kurum, former environment minister. Kurum, apart from being in the government, is an engineer who has been involved in retrofitting old buildings in major Turkish cities with anti-seismic criteria, developing a government project initiated after the terrible 1999 earthquake. Seismic risk is one of the problems, especially felt by the population (the last earthquake occurred in February 2023 in the southern part of the country on the border with Syria), and Erdogan, according to analysts, has focused on Kurum, particularly for this reason, among others. The president certainly sees this election as a referendum on his government and then, as he himself has been fond of saying in the past, “whoever rules Istanbul rules Turkey.”