Daily Review: Istanbul’s Mayoral Vote Has Foreign Policy Implications

Daily Review: Istanbul’s Mayoral Vote Has Foreign Policy Implications
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).

Millions of voters across Turkey will cast ballots in local elections Sunday, with the most consequential polls taking place in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s capital. In both cities, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s nationally dominant Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is attempting to retake the mayor’s offices after surprise losses to the opposition in 2019. (Reuters)

Our Take

Local elections across Turkey will be the first electoral test for both the AKP and the country’s opposition since last year’s presidential contest. In that vote, Erdogan ended up winning reelection convincingly, despite the opposition finally uniting behind a single candidate, which led many observers to anticipate a close race.

Buoyed by that victory, the AKP set its sights on reclaiming control of Ankara and, more importantly, Istanbul, where Erdogan got his political start as mayor in the 1990s. The current opposition mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, is one of Turkey’s most popular politicians and as such poses a threat to Erdogan and the AKP. When Imamoglu first won a close mayoral race in 2019, the AKP pushed election authorities to nullify the results. In the election rerun, Imamoglu won in resounding fashion.

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