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Erdoğan’s loss in Istanbul could transform Turkish politics

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The opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu’s landslide victory in the re-run mayoral elections in Istanbul will change very little in Turkish politics in the near term. But it has the potential to change everything in the long run.

After winning the Istanbul elections in March with a margin of 13,000 votes in a constituency of 10 million, İmamoğlu was denied victory on dubious legal grounds, with the High Electoral Council decreeing that new elections should be held on 23 June. On Sunday, the Istanbul electorate gave a strong mandate to İmamoğlu. He increased his majority to 800,000, almost 60-fold, and received the backing of 54% of the citizens of Turkey’s largest city. In contrast, Binali Yıldırım, the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) candidate, received 45% of the vote.

The impressive margin is first due to people’s sense of injustice, triggered by the decision to repeat the elections. A share of the vote even shifted directly from the AKP candidate to the opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) candidate. Polling by Istanbul Economics Research suggests that the motivation for this shift was the perception that İmamoğlu’s win had been unfairly challenged.

But he was........

© The Guardian