The re-election of Mayor of the largest city in Turkey and Europe – Istanbul has brought an even more serious loss to the ruling Justice and Development Party, created by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the long and controversial Erdogan rule in Turkey, or is it just a momentary retreat?
In one way or another, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been at the top of the Turkish state since 2003. More than 16 years. His rule is more than controversial and has been linked in a number of cases to restrictions on freedom of speech, repression of the media, opposition and protesters, and ignoring the covenants left by the father of modern Turkish state Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In recent years, especially after an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan has tightened the grip of power over the state, and governance has become more authoritarian.
Prior to local elections, even side observers could not judge whether there would be objective and fair elections. After the elections and the fragile victory of the opposition in Istanbul, the suspicions of the Erdogan regime increased. The elections were canceled and scheduled for a new vote on 23.06.2019.
However, the cancellation of the Istanbul election has played a bad joke on Erdogan. Instead of succeeding in reversing the vote in the re-election, the victory of the opposition deepened further. The fragile headline of 15,000 votes in the first victory of opposition candidate Eskem Imamoglu swelled to an overall 800,000 votes.
The tactical scheduling of the re-election during the biggest holidays in Turkey also did not help to eliminate the opposition. The ruling party and President Erdogan were hoping for a lower turnout among the opposition due to weekends and trips at that time. These predictions did not come true. At the regular elections in March, nearly 8,550,000 voters voted, and in June – 8,925,000.
The illogical lifting of the first election results in March has strengthened negative views on Erdogan and the ruling party. The scattered opposition in recent years has managed to unite for the first time on such scale and achieve a common victory. Victory, which provided new management of the most important city in Turkey – Istanbul. A major contribution to this victory is also the Kurdish minority, which was largely on the side of Eckrem Imamoglu.
The convincing loss of Istanbul by Erdogan will surely lead to new upheavals in Turkey. If the opposition can remain united, the ruling party is doomed to new failures in future elections. On the other hand, after the loss of Istanbul, the Turkish president could undertake new changes in the state structure and government that would hinder any successive success of the opposition. The expected new start for Turkey after the Istanbul election is two-way. Either we will witness the beginning of the end of Erdogan’s rule, or we will see the beginning of the end of democracy in Turkey.