Blow to Turkey’s Erdogan as opposition wins huge in Istanbul – NBC News

ISTANBUL– Turkey’s main opposition claimed a decisive triumph on Sunday in Istanbul’s re-run election, dealing one of the greatest blows to President Tayyip Erdogan during his 16 years in power and promising a clean slate in the nation’s biggest city.

Ekrem Imamoglu, mayoral prospect of the secularist Republican People’s Celebration, was leading with 54 percent of votes versus 45 percent for Erdogan’s AK Party candidate, with more than 99%of ballots opened, Turkish broadcasters stated.

The election was Istanbul’s second in 3 months after outcomes of a preliminary March vote were ditched, setting up the do-over as a test of Turks’ ability to check what numerous viewed as their president’s increasingly authoritarian power.

” Today, 16 million Istanbul citizens have actually restored our faith in democracy and revitalized our trust in justice,” Imamoglu informed advocates.

His AK Celebration challenger, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, praised him and wanted him “all the luck” in serving Istanbul, Turkey’s business center. Erdogan likewise tweeted his congratulations to the Republican Individuals’s Party candidate.

Imamoglu had won the original mayoral election on March 31 by a narrow margin, which prompted the Islamist-rooted AK Party to demand a re-run, citing what it said were voting abnormalities.

The High Election Board’s choice to give that demand drew sharp criticism from Turkey’s Western allies and from Erdogan’s opponents at home, stirring issues about the guideline of law and raising the stakes for the re-run.

Broadcasters put the Republican People’s Party lead on Sunday at about 800,000 votes, eclipsing the approximately 13,000- vote margin in March.

The election board said it would announce the election results as soon as possible.

” While March 31 was a mayoral election, this re-run was one to put an end to the dictatorship,” said Gulcan Demirkaya, 48, from the city’s AK Party-leaning Kagithane district.

” God willing, I want to see (Imamoglu) as the president in 5 years’ time,” she said. “The one-man rule needs to come to an end. For the very first time in a very long time, I am extremely delighted and happy for my nation.”

Imamoglu, a former business owner and district mayor who waged an inclusive campaign and avoided criticizing Erdogan, said he was ready to deal with the AK Party to deal with Istanbul’s problems, including its transportation gridlock and the needs of its Syrian refugees.

” In this brand-new page in Istanbul, there will from now on be justice, equality, love, tolerance; while misspending (of public funds), pomp, arrogance and the alienation of the other will end,” he said.

Erdogan himself functioned as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990 s prior to he embarked on a nationwide political career, dominating Turkish politics initially as prime minister, then as president. He administered over years of strong financial development. But critics state he has become increasingly autocratic and intolerant of dissent.

The second defeat in Istanbul marked a major humiliation for the president and might likewise compromise what up until recently seemed to be his iron grip on power. He had actually campaigned hard and targeted Imamoglu directly with accusations of lying and cheating.

” This is certainly going to have an effect on the future of Turkish politics provided the margin of success. It’s an alarming indication for the AKP facility,” said Sinan Ulgen, checking out scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels and a former Turkish diplomat.

Experts state the loss could set off a Cabinet reshuffle in Ankara and adjustments to foreign policy. It might even activate a nationwide election earlier than 2023 as arranged, although the leader of the AK Celebration’s nationalist ally soft-pedaled that possibility.

” Turkey need to now go back to its genuine program, the election process must close,” Republican Individuals’s Party leader Devlet Bahceli said. “Broaching an early election would be amongst the worst things that can be done to our nation.”

Turkey’s economy is in economic downturn and the United States, its NATO ally, has actually threatened sanctions if Erdogan goes ahead with strategies to install Russian rocket defenses.

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