President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have conceded defeat in Istanbul after his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost Ankara, the core of Turkey’s politics. Erdogan’s aggressive campaigns prior to elections failed to win voters’ favor.
The outcome of the weekend municipal voting is a huge setback for Erdogan who has maintained a stronghold of the two key cities since coming to power 16 years ago:
Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu declared victory for his secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Ankara and Istanbul. His party also maintained their grasp on Izmir, third largest city of Turkey:
“The people have voted in favor of democracy, they have chosen democracy.”
Ilayda Kocoglu, Vice-President of the Istanbul branch of the opposition Republican People’s Party played the game of conspiracy theories:
“We think they were not able to rig the election. They were not expecting us to be that organized, or that resolved.”
With 99.8 percent of ballot boxes opened in Ankara, CHP mayoral candidate Mansur Yavas had secured 50.9 percent, giving him a 3.8-percentage-point lead over his AKP rival.
Erdogan told supporters in Ankara that despite the AKP defeat in Istanbul, majority of the neighborhood cities still fall under his party.
“Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party,” he said.
Turkey’s president vowed to focus and work on the country’s weakened economy until the national elections in 2023. Currently, unemployment exceeds 10 percent and up to 30 percent among young people. The Turkish Lira depreciated 28 percent in 2018 and inflation rose by 20 percent.
Erdogan said that their troubled economy is the result of attacks from the West. He assured his supporters that “Turkey would overcome its troubles and adding he was the boss of the economy.” “We have a long period ahead where we will carry out economic reforms without compromising on the rules of the free-market economy,” he added.