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What Do The Istanbul Elections Mean For Turkey?

On March 31, 2019, Turkey had its municipal elections countrywide with CHP, the main opposition party, winning in all the major cities. This was seen as a major shakedown on country’s dictator Erdogan’s power by international broadcast channels and newspapers. The ruling party, AKP, claimed that the elections in Istanbul was rigged and the votes were stolen therefore YSK, the supreme electoral council, ruled to reelect Istanbul’s mayor on June 23rd. That election took place today with Ekrem Imamoglu of the CHP receiving 54% of the votes in his favor. This means that, for the first time in 25 years, Istanbul is going to be ruled by a party other than Erdogan’s party. Erdogan and his crew are staying rather quiet about this loss but what does this election mean for the future of the country?

The day Mark Hamill tweeted this hashtag, the entire country was filled with excitement including me. In a world where we are constantly fed American politics, it was an absurd feeling to have when other countries started to pay attention to us. Prior to this election, I was almost certain that Binali Yildirim, member of AKP would certainly win the election after all you cannot send away a dictator with an election. During the course of this short campaign, Erdogan kept mostly quiet to himself. Normally Erdogan likes to campaign for things that he is not necessarily involved in but his party is. His wanting to renew the election only meant that this time he was going to do whatever it takes to win. One of the rumors of his strategic plan to win was that he brought bus full of people to Istanbul to vote in favor of Yildirim.  

Now, the country is looking favorably upon an early presidential election. Normally the upcoming presidential election is not until 2023, however, with CHP winning in all the major cities, including Istanbul, this shows that the Turkish nation no longer wants to be ruled under Erdogan or AKP.

The way it looks now is that Erdogan can easily lose this upcoming election if it is done soon enough and fairly. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that a dictator is still a dictator and Erdogan could still do various charlatans in order to win. Although Istanbul was a fair win, this still does not mean that Turkey is a democratic country, on the contrary, it still continues to be an illiberal democracy.

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Ekrem Imamoglu, the new mayor of Istanbul, greets supporters. Photo: Times of India

One thing we can learn from this election for sure is that people are fed up. They no longer want to here lies from the government. The Istanbul election is was very important because it is the most populous city in Turkey and people that come from all kinds of different cities live there which means that the results in Istanbul reflect the common will.

For years, AKP and Erdogan’s common policy has been four legs are good, two legs are bad. AKP supporters are good, the rest are either bad or terrorists. Now, Erdogan finds himself in a situation where the nation is looking at his house from his window and they are unable to tell whether he is a pig or a human much like in Animal Farm. Whether or not the pigs win will only be shown with time.

Cover Photo: T24

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