Istanbul dealsErdogan blow in re-run poll

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 25 Jun 2019

Turkey’s opposition revelled yesterday in a landslide win in Istanbul’s re-run mayoral vote – a blow for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that even some pro-government media called a victory for democracy.

Ekrem Imamoglu, a little-known district mayor at the start of the year, won the election by more than 777,000 votes, up from just 13,000 in the first election in March, which was annulled over controversial claims of fraud.

It was a rare chance to celebrate for the opposition after 25 years of Islamic conservative rule in Istanbul. It was a rare blow to Erdogan, who has held national power since 2003.

In the traditionally left-wing neighborhood of Besiktas, thousands partied late into night, clogging the streets, waving beers and Turkish flags.

“It wasn’t right to repeat this election, but the fact that it was won with such a gap is even better for Istanbul,” said 45-year-old Servan Soydan.

Many analysts say the decision to call a re-run of the election was a massive miscalculation by the ruling party, turning Imamoglu into a victim and a household name.

Imamoglu’s “massive victory is a lesson in democracy: people want their rights respected,” tweeted the former EU ambassador to Turkey Marc Pierini.

Imamoglu took 54 percent of the vote against the ruling party’s candidate Binali Yildirim, a former prime minister.

The president’s party remains the most popular nationwide, but has been hurt lately by slowing growth and rising prices.

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