May 10 2019
The rerun of local elections in Istanbul on June 23 will be a contest between the opposition candidate and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Policy said on Thursday.
Erdoğan put his credibility on the line by campaigning hard in Istanbul and after the results were announced, he publicly urged electoral authorities to annul the results and decide for a rerun.
"It will be widely viewed as Imamoglu’s race against Erdogan, possibly presaging the next round of presidential elections in a few years’ time," Foreign Policy said.
Meanwhile, dissatisfaction due to the rerun decision has spread even to the ranks of the AKP, and this might initiate political splits leading to the formation of a new party, according to the magazine.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu narrowly won the mayor’s office in Istanbul against the candidate backed by Erdoğan, but the country's electoral board scrapped the results of the local vote in response to an appeal by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Foreign Policy said a new party could hurt the AKP by taking its voters or attracting its deputies, leading to disruption of the ruling party's majority in parliament.
Istanbul is Turkey's largest city, its commercial centre and the city where Erdoğan stared his political career. “If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey," he once said to his party's lawmakers. Now, before the new elections on June 23, he has to deal with the discontent triggered by the rerun decision, on top of an unsettled Turkish economy and the chance of formation of a new party by AKP veterans.
"Under these circumstances, the new election will no longer be about who will take the helm in Istanbul," Foreign Policy said.