April 24, 2024

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Turkey's opposition is jubilant after winning municipal elections

Turkey's opposition is jubilant after winning municipal elections

The Turkish opposition is enjoying its spring break on Monday, a day after municipal elections that saw the defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party and the victory of the secular CHP party in the country's major cities, including its jewel Istanbul.

“You know what it's like when the sun rises? Well, it's like the second sun has risen! We are very happy,” enthuses Murat Akkun, 46, a city center trader interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The results, which have not yet been announced by the Election Commission, put the Republican People's Party (CHP, Social-Democrat) as the main force in the country: the party is winning most of the polls, even in the long-held Anatolian provinces. Mr. by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP, Islamo-conservative).

He won 35 of the 81 provincial capitals, 24 for the AKP, 10 for the pro-Kurdish party DEM and two for the Islamists of Yeniden Refa.

Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Antalya… In May 2023, the CHP, stunned by the defeat of its presidential candidate, won. It is also considered a conservative stronghold in Bursa, a large industrial city in the northwest, as well as holding power in the Anatolian provinces.

A “message” from the Turks

Observers note that this is President Erdogan's worst election defeat since his party came to power in 2002.

Even pro-government newspapers Hurriyat And Yeni Safak Headlines hit the headlines Monday about the “message” Turks want to send to those in power as they grapple with a severe economic crisis.

As late as Sunday evening, the head of state observed this: recognizing a “turning point”, he promised to “respect the nation's decision” and called his camp for “self-criticism”.

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For most commentators, the AKP's defeat can largely be explained by the economic crisis the country is in, although Mr. Erdoğan's re-election in 2023 has no impact.

EditorialHurriyat Abdulkadir Selvi, who is known to be close to power, recognizes that “the economy can only explain” the “fresh wind blowing” over Turkey.

“Erdogan must leave, really leave: the prices of everything are exploding… I have two children, what can I provide for them? Look at the price of bread,” said 28-year-old housewife Zulfiye Turdek Durmaz, adding: “Erdogan is taxing his people for everything, everything. He has shown himself to be ruthless. He is 70 years old, time for youth. »

Re-elected in May 2023, Mr. The newspaper says that Erdogan faces. Hurriyat “A New Political Equation”.

In particular, he saw his Islamic-conservative party swayed to the right by the anger of a small Islamist party: anti-LGBT+ community, feminists, interest rates (compared to usury, forbidden by Islam) Yeniden Refah has stolen two provinces. and taking away votes from the AKP, establishing itself as the country's third force.

Inflation at the core

According to analysts, the party won many votes by making inflation, 67% in one year, the centerpiece of its campaign and relentlessly condemning the continuation of business relations between Turkey and Israel after the war in Gaza.

However, Finance Minister Mehmet Simcek, who was appointed last June, has undertaken a broader monetary crunch by gradually raising interest rates (raised from 8.5% to 50% since June), pledging on Monday to “do everything to bring inflation back to single level. Digits are stable”.

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The popular and charismatic CHP mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, a champion of the opposition since winning Istanbul in 2019, now seems destined for a national destiny.

In Ankara, Mansur Yavas emerges as the hero of the election, winning the capital once again with a 30-point lead over his rival, the AKP.

But for now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been Prime Minister since 2003, then President (since 2014) and Head of State until 2028.

He said in early March that the elections “will be the last” organized under his mandate, suggesting he may retire from politics at the end of his mandate.

Until then, even with a weakened party, he wants to continue to govern and called for the next four years not to “waste the nation's time”.

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