Voters in Istanbul gave a clear mandate to the secular Opposition candidate in the mayoral re-election on Sunday night, serving a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, also known as the AK Party.
With 99.37% of the votes counted, the AK Party’s Binali Yildirim had received 45.09% votes, as against the secular Republican People’s Party’s candidate Ekrem Imamoglu’s 54.03%, the Daily Sabah reported. The Republican People’s Party is also known as CHP, and is the oldest political party in the country, founded by Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk”.
Mayoral elections in Istanbul were first held in March. Imamoglu had won the polls by just 13,729 votes, but the election was subsequently cancelled amid allegations of fraud, AFP reported. In the re-poll on Sunday, Imamoglu was leading his opponent by over 7,77,000 votes.
Yildirim, who was the prime minister of Turkey between 2016 and 2018, conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent.
“The elections in Istanbul were carried out in a calm and peaceful manner,” Supreme Electoral Board Chairperson Sadi Güven said at a news conference. “The official results will be shared with the parties and public when available.”
“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, AFP reported. “Mr President, I am ready to work in harmony with you. I convey from here my request to meet with you in the shortest time possible.”
“You protected the dignity of Turkey’s democracy in front of the whole world,” he told the voters. “You protected our more than a century-old democratic tradition, thanks to fellow citizens of Istanbul.”