Sunday, 17 November, 2019

Istanbul votes in mayoral re-run, in test for Turkish democracy, Erdogan

Istanbul votes in test for Erdogan and democracy Erdogan's candidate concedes defeat in Istanbul vote
Patty Aguilar | 23 June, 2019, 23:54

Istanbul returned to the polls today in a re-run of the mayoral election that has become a test of Turkish democracy as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's continued popularity at a time of economic trouble.

Mr Yildirim, with 45.4 percent of the vote, conceded defeat and said: "I congratulate him and wish him success". Turkey's lira currency tumbled after the decision to annul the March vote and is down almost 10% this year in part on election jitters. He spent 18 days in office before Turkey's electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts.

'It was not a single group or party, but the whole of Istanbul and Turkey that won this election, ' Imamoglu said in his victory speech as scenes of his ecstatic supporters broke out across the city of 15 million.

Ekrem Imamoglu, mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), talks to the media at the CHP election coordination centre in Istanbul, Turkey, June 23, 2019.

Broadcasters put the CHP's lead on Sunday at about 700,000 votes, eclipsing the roughly 13,000-vote margin in March.

Fearing fraud, the opposition has mobilised an army of lawyers from across Turkey to monitor Sunday's election, with the Istanbul Bar Association unfurling a huge banner at their headquarters that reads: "Stand guard for democracy".

The voided vote in Istanbul had raised concerns domestically and overseas about the state of Turkish democracy and whether Erdogan's party, which has been in control of the Turkish government since 2002, would accept any electoral loss. A second loss in the city, where in the 1990s he served as mayor, would be embarrassing for Erdogan and could weaken what until recently seemed to be his iron grip on power.

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"If we have wronged, knowingly or unknowingly, one of our fellow Istanbulites or our challengers, if we have done something unjust, I ask for your forgiveness", he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has voted in a closely watched repeat election for the next mayor of Istanbul, a contest that could have a political impact on his national government.

Imamoglu, a former businessman and district mayor who waged an inclusive campaign and avoided criticising Erdogan, said he was ready to work with the AKP to tackle Istanbul's problems, including its transport gridlock and the needs of its Syrian refugees.

Critics had accused Erdogan of refusing to give up control of Istanbul, Turkey's economic powerhouse and a crucial source of patronage for Islamic conservatives since he won the mayorship himself a quarter of a century ago.

In a hard-fought campaign, Imamoglu focused on urban poverty after the country slid into recession at the end of 2018.

The preliminary results were provided by the official Anatolia News Agency.

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