Opposition candidate for the Istanbul mayoral election Ekrem Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party, (CHP) won against the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Binali Yildirim to become Istanbul’s next mayor this past Sunday. Following the original March 31 election, which Imamoglu won by a margin of less than 1%, Imamoglu briefly took office as mayor for 20 days but faced an election violations complaint by the AKP that led to weeks of partial recounts and an eventual Supreme Election Board decision to annul the election results and a rerun of the election. Imamoglu’s campaign was defined by the theme of “radical love,” which entailed a message of inclusion and an acceptance of racial, religious and ideological diversity, and a political practice of reaching out to working-class, predominantly Muslim supporters of the AKP.
The rerun’s results show that Imamoglu was able to significantly increase his majority over Yildirim to a 54% to 45% victory. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, intervened several times to campaign on Yildirim’s behalf and has previously said in speeches that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.” Erdogan himself was born in Istanbul, and his early political career, as well as the rise of the AKP, was defined by his service as Istanbul’s mayor.
With us to discuss the election results and their implications for Turkish politics is Ayca Alemdaroglu, the associate director of the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program and a research assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University.