Erdogan recognizes “a turning point” for his camp, largely defeated by the opposition

The Turkish opposition is on the verge of winning a major victory across the country on Sunday, March 31, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conceded his camp's defeat in the evening to municipal elections.

“Unfortunately we didn't get the results we wanted.”, the head of state announced, speaking before an unusually quiet crowd at his party's AKP headquarters in Ankara. Mr. Erdogan has vowed to respect the outcome of the referendum he describes “Turning Point” to his camp “We will not respect the decision of our nation, refrain from being obstinate, acting against the national will and questioning the authority of the nation”He declared.

After counting 95% of ballot boxes nationally, the opposition inflicted its worst electoral defeat on the head of state's Islamic-conservative party. The main opposition CHP (Social Democrat) claimed victory in Turkey's two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, and was poised to capture more, including Bursa, a major industrial city in the northwest, which it bought from the AKP. 2004.

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Voters chose to change the face of Turkey.

Just before midnight local time (11 p.m. in France), without even waiting for the official results to be announced, Istanbul's outgoing mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced his re-election at the head of Turkey's largest city, captured in 2019. .

“Tonight democracy will sweep the squares, streets, universities, cafes and restaurants of Istanbul (…)”Under a wave of Turkish red flags and smoke bombs, the councilor launched in front of tens of thousands of his supporters who rushed to the municipality's headquarters.

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In the country's capital, Ankara, leading CHP Mayor Mansur Yavas confirmed in front of cheering crowds that he had already won. “The neglected have sent a clear message to those who run this country”.

Voters chose to change the face of Turkey.Ozgur Ozel, head of the CHP, estimated. Apart from Izmir (west), the country's third city and the CHP's stronghold, and Antalya (south), where opposition supporters took to the streets to celebrate the victory, the main opposition group made an impressive breakthrough in Anatolia. According to almost final results, he is leading the race in provincial capitals long held by the AKP.

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A local body election with national resonance

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 70 years old and more than two decades in power, has thrown his full weight into the campaign, especially in the country's economic and cultural capital, Istanbul, which he has transformed since he was mayor in the 1990s. to the opposition in 2019.

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Throughout the campaign, he held daily meetings and benefited from unlimited time on public television, which his opponents almost lost. But the commitment of the head of state announced in early March that these elections “His Last”Not enough, it has finally given national resonance to these local elections.

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“Whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey”, President Erdogan regularly says. With the re-election of Ekrem Imamoglu as the head of the megacity, the latter can already start the race for the presidential election in 2028, he continues to show himself as a direct competitor to the head of the state.

In addition to the possible fatigue of returning to the polls ten months after presidential and legislative elections in May 2023, the electorate, faced with a severe economic crisis, allowed the government: 67% inflation in one year and the screws of their currency. Daily life for many middle-class Turks is unbearable. This dissatisfaction was reflected in lower participation compared to 2019.

However, AKP candidates were ahead in several major cities in President Erdogan's strongholds of Anatolia (Konya, Kayseri, Erzurum) and the Black Sea (Rise, Trabzon), while the pro-Kurdish party DEM took a comfortable lead. The Kurdish-majority southeast has several large cities, including Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of Turkey's Kurds.

The world with AFP

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