Erdogan’s Turkey at a “turning point” after the municipal elections

(Istanbul) Turkey, dominated for more than two decades by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, woke up on Monday at a “turning point” by the head of state’s own admission after a historic victory for the opposition to municipal elections.

The results, almost final, give the Republican People’s Party (CHP, social-democrat), the main opposition group, the clear winner of the vote even in the provinces of Anatolia held until then by the Justice and Justice Party. development (AKP, Islamoconservative) of Mr. Erdogan.

Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Antalya… the CHP, which had been stunned by the defeat of its candidate in the May 2023 presidential election, was a hit in the country’s largest cities including Bursa, seen as a conservative stronghold, as well as in several other provinces of Anatolia considered to have gained power.

For observers, this is President Erdogan’s worst electoral debacle since his party came to power in 2002.

During the night from Sunday to Monday, while the counting of ballot boxes continued, the president recognized a “turning point”, promising to “respect the decision of the nation”.

Very pro-government dailies Hurriyet And Yeni Safah headlines on Monday about the “message” that the Turks, faced with a severe economic crisis, wanted to send to the government.

The editorialist ofHurriyetAbdulkadir Selvi, known to be close to power, recognizes that “a new wind is blowing” over Turkey “which can only be explained by the economy”.

Mr. Erdogan, re-elected last year, faces, according to him, “a new political equation”.

“Revolution at the polls”

“Revolution at the polls”, title for its part Sözcüa secular nationalist daily hostile to the head of state, while the major opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet hails, in white letters and on a red background – the colors of the Turkish flag – a “historic victory”.

Anticipated in Ankara and Istanbul, the political and economic capitals that the government had lost in 2019, the opposition’s victory took observers by surprise with its scale, considered unprecedented since 1977 and which is reshaping the electoral geography of the country.

Champion of the opposition since his victory in Istanbul five years ago at the end of a bitter election, the CHP mayor of the Turkish megacity Ekrem Imamoglu, very popular throughout the country, finds himself propelled into the presidential race of 2028.

The CHP mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, re-elected with a 30-point lead over his AKP rival after counting almost all the ballot boxes, has also emerged extremely strengthened from this election.

“We are going to witness a race between Imamoglu and Yavas” with a view to the 2028 presidential election, believes Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power since 2003, first as prime minister then, since 2014, as president, affirmed in early March that his municipal elections were “the last” organized under his authority, suggesting a possible political retirement.

On the night from Sunday to Monday, in front of dejected supporters, the 70-year-old head of state called for “not to waste” the four years remaining between now and then.


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