April 15, 2024

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Local elections in Turkey: Erdogan's AKP suffers setback

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Turkey itselfErdogan's AKP suffers setback in local elections

Erdogan's goal is to win back the metropolis of Istanbul with his AKP. But now opposition parties are ahead. AKP is losing votes across the country.

  • Local elections are held in Turkey.

  • These will be a morale test for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic conservative party.

  • After one-third of the votes were counted, the largest opposition party, the CHP, was slightly ahead of the AKP (about 37 percent) with 39 percent.

Local elections in Turkey show President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-conservative ruling party, AKP, is losing a lot of votes across the country. The opposition can also hope to retain control of the country's most important cities, including the metropolis of Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

The opposition is slightly ahead of the AKP

The main opposition CHP was leading with 39 percent (about 37 percent) nationwide on Sunday after a third of the votes were counted, state news agency Anadolu reported, citing unofficial preliminary figures. In the previous local elections in 2019, the AKP won 44 percent of the vote. Unofficial results pointed to defeat for Erdogan's AKP in the five most populous cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, the state agency said. The first official results are expected in the evening.

Some 61 million people in 81 provinces were called on Sunday to elect mayors, municipal councilors and other local politicians. The vote was seen as an important barometer of mood and an indicator of the country's political future. Deadly clashes took place over polling in the southeast.

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Erdoğan's big goal was to win back Istanbul

Erdogan's main goal is to win back the Istanbul metropolis with his AKP. In 2019 Erdogan's ruling AKP replaced Ekrem Imamoglu of the CHP, the largest opposition party in Istanbul, ending 25 years of government by Islamic conservative parties. At that time the AKP canceled the election. In the second round, Imamoglu won by an even bigger margin – a victory considered the most severe setback in Erdogan's political career to date. Erdogan's political rise began in Istanbul when he was elected mayor in 1994.

One person was killed and 11 injured in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır on Sunday after a dispute over the election of a community leader escalated, state news agency Anadolu reported. Another person was killed in an election-related dispute in Sirte province.

The election took place in difficult circumstances: high inflation and economic conditions may have cost Erdogan's party votes. In turn, the opposition, which contested the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023 as a coalition, was deemed to be divided and no longer contested as a unit.

Election campaigns were considered unfair

The election campaign was considered unfair – much of the media in Turkey is directly or indirectly controlled by the government. Initially, there were no large-scale voting irregularities. The DEM party said officials in the southeastern Turkish province of Sanliurfa tried to vote in more than one ballot box. It was blocked and documented.

The Council of Europe and Left Party delegation observed the election on site. Thousands of volunteers are also required to ensure an orderly process. Just before the referendum, the union Oy ve Ötesi said it had managed to recruit 30,000 people. This is more than the 2019 local elections, but significantly less than the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023, for which 200,000 people were registered as election workers.

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(DBA/Vocational School)