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Ekrem Imamoglu, the new mayor of Istanbul, at a press conference. Ekrem Imamoglu, the new mayor of Istanbul from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, at a press conference the day after he took office, Istanbul, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

Turkey’s Opposition, Buoyed by Its Win in Istanbul, Faces a Long Road Ahead

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The resounding victory by opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in last week’s mayoral election in Istanbul delivered a sharp blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, whose 17-year grip on power suddenly looks a little less tight. In addition to a resurgent opposition, Erdogan now also faces rumbles of discontent from within the AKP and a looming challenge from several of his own former allies who are planning to launch a new center-right party. But both the opposition and Erdogan’s erstwhile AKP partners face an uphill task taking on the man who has dominated Turkish politics for so long.

Imamoglu’s convincing victory—he won by 800,000 votes, 9 percentage points ahead of the AKP’s candidate, Binali Yildirim—was well deserved, doubly so since the poll was a dubious rerun, forced by a grudgeful AKP that refused to accept Imamoglu’s narrow, original win back in March. Erdogan and his party, citing “irregularities,” pushed election authorities to nullify those results and run the ballot again. ...

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