Opposition candidate wins Istanbul mayor’s race in blow to AKP

In a country that has been in perpetual campaign mode for the last five years, the sudden end of the Istanbul election do-over came as shock few could have predicted. Cheers and car horns echoed through the streets of the central Beyoglu district as the Binali Yildirim, the candidate of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), conceded defeat in a televised speech, ending his party’s long dominance over Turkey’s largest city.

“As of now my rival is leading,” Yildirim said minutes after the initial results were released, showing Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), with 54% of the vote. “I congratulate him and wish him all the luck. My wish is for Imamoglu to serve Istanbul well.”

Preliminary results reported by the state news outlet Anadolu Agency showed Imamoglu with 4.7 million votes to Yildirim’s 3.9 million votes with more than 99% of ballots counted at 9 p.m. Sunday night.

The election do-over came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP contested the initial March 31 municipal vote in which Imamoglu won by a slim margin. Following the original defeat, AKP officials brought forth a succession of vote recounts and appeals until Turkey’s top election board annulled the results, citing irregularities due to the credentials of some ballot box observers.

Preliminary results indicate Imamoglu significantly widened his margin in Sunday’s election, which saw a voter participation of roughly 84%. In a televised speech, the Istanbul mayor-elect warned party officials and ballot box observers not to leave their posts until all ballots had been officially registered, and to avoid early celebrations.

“This victory will pave the way for the democratization of Turkey,” Tuba Torun, a CHP official, told Al-Monitor. “We have a government that is ready to do anything to keep its power. As you know, we won last time and they didn’t accept the results, but this time the voting margin is so wide that they can’t deny the defeat here.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/06/ekrem-imamoglu-chp-wins-istanbul-mayor-race-blow-to-akp.html#ixzz5rhxMAz14