Urban Turkey revolted against Erdogan

Urban Turkey revolted against Erdogan
Urban Turkey revolted against Erdogan

The polls had warned – Erdogan’s difficult victory in the 2023 presidential run-off – and the predictions came true: urban Turkey gave a clear victory to the social democratic opposition represented by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) against the Islamist formation of the Turkish president, the Party Justitiei si Dezvoltarii (AKP), in Sunday’s municipal elections, shows a La Razon analysis, quoted by Rador Radio Romania.

In the national popular vote, it was the first victory for the Kemalists, led by Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, in an election – local or general – since 1977, and also the first defeat for Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party since it was founded in 2001 .The president himself, who revalidated his victory just ten months ago, spoke early Monday morning of a “turning point” for his political establishment after conceding defeat.

“For Erdogan, who has had a very successful political past, this is the most negative result he has ever had to face,” said Sinan Ulgen, an expert on Turkish politics at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on Monday.

In the total percentage of votes, the CHP, which appeared alone in this election unlike five years ago, won with 37.76% of the votes compared to 35.48%, the score achieved by the AKP. The Conservatives went from 20.5 million voters to 16.3 this Sunday.

As a result, the Anatolia map saw an increase in the number of red demarcations this Sunday, especially in the western and coastal areas. The Islamists keep some of their fiefdoms in the interior and the pro-Kurdish formation DEM (Democracy and Equality Party) prevailed – with 5.70% of the national total – in the southeastern provinces where the Kurdish ethnicity is the majority.

Moreover, Erdogan’s party has its right wing New Welfare Party (YRP), which, after a campaign in which the AKP was the target of its critics, won 6.19% of the vote and won in provinces such as Kurdish-dominated Sanliurfa , or in Yozgat, in the center of the country.

Transformed into an almost personal duel between Imamoglu and Erdogan, the one in Istanbul, Turkey’s main city with 16 million inhabitants, was the most symbolic battle of those fought on Sunday. If in 2019 the CHP took over the most important seat in the country – in alliance with two other parties and after repeated elections – after a quarter of a century of Islamist governments – Erdogan himself was mayor of his hometown from 1994 to 1998, on Sunday, the Social Democratic candidate beat the AKP candidate by over eleven and a half points. This is the largest difference in votes in four decades. With this result, Imamoglu wins to become his party’s candidate in the 2028 presidential election: he will face the challenge of unifying a divided opposition.

In addition to Istanbul, the CHP also took over the mayorships of Ankara, the capital, Izmir, Bursa and Antalya, the third, fourth and fifth most populous cities respectively. In Ankara, the CHP’s victory was even more overwhelming, taking 60.38% of the vote compared to 31.69% for the AKP.

Less than a year after his victory in the second round of the presidential election, Turkish voters on Sunday cast a vote of condemnation against Erdogan and his government’s policies. The decrease in participation compared to the previous election – in some areas 10% – is explained by the abstention of the traditional voter for the AKP as a protest vote.

For example, there is a 14-point drop in participation in Adiyaman province, one of the most affected by last February’s earthquake and where the CHP won 22 percentage points more than the AKP on Sunday. At the top of the grievances of the Turkish population, the bad economic situation: almost a year after his re-election, the orthodox policies implemented by Erdogan have failed to provide help to the middle and poor classes after long months of skyrocketing inflation – 67% in the last records – and with the lira Turkish in free fall.

In short, the AKP’s defeat on Sunday was a call for change from the secular, social democratic half of Turkey, revolting against more than two decades of populist and Islamist authoritarian governments, compared to the other half of Turkey in decline, which remains loyal to Erdogan. “The era of one-man tutelage is over,” Istanbul’s mayor said, amid celebrations and chants of “Ataturk, Ataturk” — and the display of national flags emblazoned with the father of the country — on the streets of the Turkish metropolis.

The president of the social-democratic and secular formation, Ozgur Ozel, said, for his part, that Turkish voters opted for the “new policy” over that represented by the current president, who announced less than three weeks ago that they would be his last choices. With the country divided, it will take four years to know whether the flavor of change brought by the municipal election result translates into an end-of-the-cycle for the Islamists in the 2028 presidential election, with or without Erdogan on the cards.

“Regardless of the results, the winner of this election is democracy and our popular will. We will act with the same sense of responsibility and will not recognize any power above the will of the nation,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, more humble and conciliatory than usual, after learning the results early Monday.

The president, who has ruled his country since 2003, assured after learning the results of the municipal elections – the biggest defeat of his political career – that his party had “lost its stature” and would focus on solving the problems of the Turkish economy and on foreign policy. “If we’ve made a mistake, we’ll fix it. If something is missing, we will complete it,” said the leader of the AKP, an Islamist and conservative party he founded in 2001.

Ten months after winning re-election to the presidency, the 70-year-old veteran president had surprisingly announced less than three weeks ago that Sunday’s local elections would be his last and his role in this campaign was more discreet than the others. Many within and outside his ranks doubt the promise of a political survivor – capable of overcoming the massive protests of 2013 and the attempted coup of 2016 – who has certainly not had his last word.

Source: REASONABLE / Rador Radio Romania / Translation: Rhodesia Costea

The article is in Romanian

Tags: Urban Turkey revolted Erdogan


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