Turkey’s ruling AK Party candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was defeated a second time on Sunday by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in the rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral election, in a major slap to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The first election, in which the CHP candidate won by less than a single percentage point, was contested by the AK Party, which filed an “extraordinary objection” with the Supreme Electoral Council. The results were annulled and a rerun was scheduled, leading to Sunday’s vote.
Attorneys from across the country volunteered their time to travel to the city this time to be present, one at each voting booth in the nearly 2,000 polling stations across Istanbul, in order to counter election fraud, according to Al Jazeera.
This time around, Imamoglu won a decisive victory with 54 percent of the votes, after nearly all of the polling stations reported in. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) candidate conceded defeat with 45 percent of the vote.
“According to the result as of now, competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is leading the race,” Yildirim said in his speech. “I congratulate him and wish him good luck.”
Imamoglu told his supporters he would bring a “new beginning” to the country’s largest city and praised them for having “protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey.”
Istanbul, which serves as the nation’s commercial hub, is also symbolic of much more for the country. Erdogan, who himself was mayor of the city in the 1990s, and who today leads the AK Party has said in the past, “Whoever loses Istanbul loses Turkey.”
It will be interesting indeed to see who wins the national elections the next time around, given Sunday’s results.