Erdoğan loses power in Turkish elections
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost control of the two largest cities in Turkey – Ankara and Istanbul in Sunday’s municipal elections. However, an AKP official announced the party would contest the Istanbul count. Defeat in Istanbul would hit Erdoğan particularly hard. The president began his rise as mayor of Turkey’s largest city in the 1990s and has said that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.”
Sunday’s vote, which was seen as a massive test of the president’s popularity and he acknowledged that his party has lost support. “We, as the AKP, have lost some of the municipalities,” Erdoğan said in a speech late Sunday. “We will accept that we have won the hearts of our people in the places where we won, and we were not successful enough in the places where we lost, and we will decide on our action plan accordingly.”
For years, Erdoğan successfully cast himself as the guarantor of prosperity and growth, but as living costs soared with inflation at around 20% and food-price increases hitting above 30% discontent grew widespread, even among the AKP’s conservative voter base. The president himself described the elections as an existential test for his country, calling the vote “a matter of survival.”
Erdoğan has been criticised for showing some of the New Zealand mosque gunman’s video to bolster support at election rallies. Mr Erdogan said part of gun suspect Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto was to keep Turks from Europe. New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters told Turkish officials showing the video was “unfair” and endangered his country’s citizens abroad.
As part of a sweeping crackdown following a coup attempt in 2016, Erdoğan’s government has removed dozens of mayors and hundreds of local officials with alleged links to terrorists, replacing them with government-appointed trustees. It remains to be seen how and if Erdoğan will acknowledge the results of the vote. We have seen already that Erdoğan has hinted he will not respect some election results, vowing to remove some 300 city councillor candidates with alleged links to Kurdish militants