Imamoglu wins re-run Istanbul poll

Op­po­si­tion’s land­slide vic­tory a blow to Pres­i­dent Erdogan

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

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.

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