The Debate - Erdogan fatigue? Turkish president suffers setbacks in local elections

Muriel Colon
April 2, 2019

According to Erdogan, the current referendum determines the "survival" of his country along with his party.

In February, inflation stood at just under 20 percent, while the Central Bank's main interest rate is now 24 percent.

Erdogan portrayed the election as a victory for AKP, which along with coalition partner, the rightwing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), won around 52 percent of the votes nationwide. "If there is one invalid vote in each ballot box, it makes 31,136 votes in total, which is more than the difference [between the two sides]", he said, adding that there are some 315,500 invalid votes in the polls.

In Istanbul, AKP candidate and former prime minister Binali Yildirim had a narrowing lead of 0.14 percentage point over the main opposition party after 98 per cent of the ballots were opened.

For his supporters, Erdogan remains the strong leader they believe Turkey needs and they tout the country's economic development over the years he and the AKP have been in power.

AK Party's Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim told reporters on Monday that invalid votes cast on Sunday outnumber the vote difference tenfold, adding that his rival Ekrem Imamoglu - the candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) - now had 25,000 more votes.

Yavas previously ran for the position in 2014, when he narrowly lost to the AKP's Melih Gokcek, in an election the CHP and other opposition figures said was rife with vote theft, intentional miscalculation and corruption.

Last year, after Mr Erdogan announced the June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Committee voiced concern over the freedom and fairness of Turkish snap elections and recommended they be postponed.


The secular, main opposition alliance, the Republican People's Party, or CHP had 30 percent.

The AKP still holds a majority of the city's districts, Anadolu reported.

Behlul Ozkan, associate professor of global relations at Marmara University, says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's loss of ground in local elections in Ankara and Istanbul indicate that his socially conservative and construction-driven policies no longer resonate in the cosmopolitan cities.

Yildirim accepted that his rival was leading but said his party would file an objection, suggesting a recount of the 319,500 votes declared void in Istanbul.

The race in Istanbul was particularly tight, with both AK Party and the CHP claiming victory in Istanbul's mayoral election.

"This will certainly lead to an emerging new political landscape in Turkey", he said.

The HDP won the race in seven cities in the southeast but lost some strongholds to the ruling party.

YSK's website was down at the time of publishing, a regular occurence during Turkish elections.

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