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Erdogan recognizes opposition victory in municipal elections – DW – 03/31/2024

Erdogan recognizes opposition victory in municipal elections – DW – 03/31/2024

In a midnight address this Sunday (03/31/2024), Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged his party's setback in municipal elections. The results were celebrated by the opposition, which significantly expanded the number of provincial capitals under its jurisdiction.

“We have not achieved the results we expected,” the president said in a speech in Ankara, broadcast live on the NTV network.

With 90% of votes counted, Erdogan's Islamist AKP party lost a majority vote for the first time in two decades, leading the social democratic CHP by 1.5 points, more than half a million votes. .

“Democracy will win these elections,” Erdogan said, adding that “the nation has spoken and decided.”

He asserted that the election was conducted without major incidents and the results reflected the will of the people.

“This is not an end, but a turning point,” Erdogan said, noting that the next general election is still four years away.

“We will continue forward, we will continue to win: I believe in you,” the president insisted.

Opposition can get up to 36 capitals

The AKP ruled 38 provincial capitals from the 2019 municipal capitals, but if the results are confirmed, there will be only 23 left, while the CHP has risen from 22 to 36, including some AKP strongholds such as Bursa, the fourth city. in the country.

It has also expanded its lead in Istanbul and Ankara, the cities it captured from the AKP in 2019 after a quarter century of Islamist municipal governments.

Opponents of Erdogan's government celebrate victory in communal elections.
Opponents of Erdogan's government celebrate victory in communal elections.Photo: Ali Unal/AP Photo/Image Alliance

With 58 percent of votes counted, the CHP has a 250,000-vote lead nationwide, a dramatic reversal from the 2019 local elections, when it was 14 points behind its rival, the Islamist AKP led by Erdogan. Furthermore, in addition to retaining control over two major cities and its fiefdoms on the western and Mediterranean coasts, the AKP also includes historically strong places such as Bursa.

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“Today, voters have decided to change and end the imbalance of power. The CHP has achieved a historic victory,” party leader Özgür Özel announced at a press conference. “The government has been given a clear message: the rule of law must return to us, a country of all colors, diversity is wealth,” Ozel said in a speech broadcast live on the NTV network.

Istanbul's opposition mayor celebrates victory

Meanwhile, Istanbul's opposition mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced Sunday night that he has been re-elected as head of Turkey's largest city, where he was first elected in 2019.

“We are in first place with more than a million votes (…) we won the election,” he announced to the press, adding that the results were based on 96% of the ballot boxes examined.

“Voters have decided to change the face of Turkey,” Özgür Özel, head of the social democratic opposition CHP, said Sunday night after the first results were released.

Erdogan, 70, devoted himself fully to the election campaign in the country of 85 million people, giving a boost to the candidates of his party, the Islamic-conservative AKP.

One of his main objectives was to rescue Istanbul, the country's economic capital, which he ruled as mayor between 1994 and 1998.

Celebrate hassle-free

Ozel, however, extended a conciliatory hand to his opponent: “There is no loser from this victory and no one should feel defeated from our victory. Good governance has been rewarded and bad governance has been punished,” he said.

He also asked his party supporters to “celebrate as quietly and closely as possible without disturbing the supporters of other parties” and not to take revenge for past failures.

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Provisional data shows that the AKP lost 13 of the 38 provinces it ruled. Part of the AKP's decline is due to the rise of its erstwhile ally, the fundamentalist Islamist party Yeniden Refah (YRP), which has moved up to fourth in the vote, although it leads in only two provinces, where the AKP has so far dominated. .

DZC, jc (EFE, AFP)