Imamoglu wins re-run Istanbul poll
Opposition’s landslide victory a blow to President Erdogan
Turkey’s opposition revelled Monday in a landslide win in Istanbul’s re-run mayoral vote – a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ekrem Imamoglu of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) secured 54.21 percent of votes, the head of the High Election Board announced on Monday – a far wider victory margin than his narrow win three months ago.
The previous result was annulled after protests from Erdogan’s Islamistrooted AK Party, which said there had been widespread voting irregularities.
On Sunday and in the early hours Monday, tens of thousands of Imamoglu supporters celebrated in the streets of Istanbul after the former businessman triumphed.
“In this city today, you have fixed democracy. Thank you Istanbul,” Imamoglu told supporters who made heart signs with their hands, in an expression of the inclusive election rhetoric that has been the hallmark of his campaigning.
Erdogan congratulated him on the victory and Imamoglu’s rival, Binali Yildirim of the ruling AK Party (AKP), wished him luck as mayor two hours after polls closed.
Erdogan has ruled Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and then as president, becoming the country’s most dominant politician since its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, nearly a century ago.
His AKP has strong support among pious and conservative Turks and its stewardship of Turkey’s economy through a decade and a half of construction-fuelled growth helped Erdogan win more than a dozen national and local elections.
But economic recession and a financial crisis have eroded that support and Erdogan’s ever-tighter control over government has alarmed some voters.
Turkey’s lira tumbled after the decision to annul the March vote and is down 8 percent this year, in part on election jitters.
But assets rallied on Monday as investors welcomed the removal of one source of political uncertainty. The lira firmed 1 percent against the dollar, shares rose nearly 2 percent and bond yields fell.
Imamoglu won support even in traditionally pious Istanbul districts, once known as AK Party strongholds, ending the 25-year-long Islamist rule in the country’s largest city.