The shocking result of the Turkish election, a lesson for the rest of the world. It is Erdogan’s biggest failure in the last 2 decades

The shocking result of the Turkish election, a lesson for the rest of the world. It is Erdogan’s biggest failure in the last 2 decades
The shocking result of the Turkish election, a lesson for the rest of the world. It is Erdogan’s biggest failure in the last 2 decades
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The date of publishing:

04/03/2024 07:00

Turkey found itself after last week’s local elections in a landscape of political reality vastly different from a year ago, when Erdogan won a new term as president. Photo: Shutterstock

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went through his biggest political failure in the last two decades at the end of last week, the Washington Post writes. The opposition scored several electoral victories in the country and in 5 of Turkey’s largest cities, including Istanbul, where Erdogan’s efforts for his protégé to win proved futile.

Erdogan’s political career took off after a successful term as mayor of Istanbul three decades ago. He won the support of the Turkish people by relying on an ideology of populist nationalism with religious overtones that now underpins the autocratic regime that has kept him in power all this time.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has stood out as a central figure of a new generation of politicians. Sunday’s election “marks the end of democratic erosion in Turkey and the rebirth of democracy,” Imamoglu said.

“People oppressed under authoritarian regimes are now turning their eyes to Istanbul,” said the mayor of Turkey’s largest city, who then indicated that he might even try to oust Erdogan from the country’s leadership in the future.

The era where the whole country is under the tutelage of one person is over, Imamoglu told his supporters gathered in the heart of the city.


Ekrem Imamoglu’s victory in Istanbul’s municipal elections cemented his position as Turkey’s opposition leader. Photo: Profimedia Images

This turn of events is fueled in particular by voter anger over the poor state of the economy – the population is feeling the effects of out-of-control inflation, which has reached 70%, and the collapsed value of the Turkish lira.

Some people who would normally have voted with AKP, Erdogan’s party, did not turn out to vote, and those who were more right-wing chose to vote with an Islamist party that broke away from Erdogan after he refused to break economic relations with Israel after the Gaza war.

The Kurdish vote was crucial to the defeat of Erdogan’s party

The success of the opposition party, the CHP, which was long seen as too “dogmatic and elitist”, appealing only to non-religious townspeople, is also due to the votes coming from ethnic Kurds, who supported the candidates with the best chance of winning AKP in protest against Erdogan, instead of voting with the candidates of the main pro-Kurdish party.

Sunday’s vote showed that despite the fact that elections in Turkey are not completely free and fair, things can change quite quickly.

Turkey awoke on Monday to a vastly different landscape of political reality than a year ago, when Erdogan won a new term as president despite an economy in freefall and the tragic aftermath of an earthquake that devastated the south the country.

“Some have said that Erdogan’s supporters supported him to the end. Others said the president had so consolidated his power that he could no longer be defeated at the polls. CHP’s success in local elections on Sunday proves that both camps are wrong. They show that despite the unfair conditions, elections matter and voters choose with their wallets – in the end.”

Although Turkey won’t have another major election for another four years, when Erdogan tries to extend his term as president, his task may be more difficult than many expected, after much At the time, analysts said that politics in Turkey was predictable and that Erdogan would stay in power forever.

Erdogan now has a problem about who could take his place. All the candidates the Turkish president supported failed miserably.

The three lessons of the Turkish election for liberal democrats around the world

The Istanbul mayor’s victory is due to three factors, which should be a lesson to liberal democrats everywhere, according to Asli Aydintasbas, an academic at the Brookings Institution.

The first factor is charisma – it counts, and Imamoglu makes great use of it. It is much better to have a truly popular figure at the head of an opposition election campaign than to bet on a compromised candidate who fails to arouse the support of a critical number of voters – as was the case with Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the former CHP leader.


Many of Erdogan’s supporters either abstained or voted with an Islamist party after the Turkish president refused to cut economic ties with Israel in response to the Gaza war. Photo: Profimedia Images

Secondly, Imamoglu could count on a growing coalition of voters, which included the Kurds who proved essential in the opposition’s victory in these elections.

The third factor has to do with Imamoglu’s track record, which has shown that he is capable of governing and administering. “Until you convince the voters that you can give them concrete results, simple outrage and a dramatic attitude towards democracy are not enough,” Aydintasbas said.

This has already been seen in elections in several European countries, such as Sweden or the Netherlands, where far-right parties have outfoxed the ruling liberals, who have failed to scare voters enough to not vote with their opponents. .

Imamoglu compared his political agenda to that of liberal mayors in other European capitals, such as Warsaw or Budapest, who faced authoritarian national governments.

The mayor of Istanbul is aware of the struggle between autocracy and democracy, which he finds himself in the middle of, “but he is smart enough not to reduce everything to just that,” explained Aydintasbas.

Editor: Raul Nețoiu

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The article is in Romanian

Tags: shocking result Turkish election lesson rest world Erdogans biggest failure decades

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