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Blow for Turkey’s power-hungry President Erdogan as his party loses Istanbul mayoral election AGAIN

In a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an opposition candidate declared victory in the Istanbul mayor’s race for a second time today after the government-backed candidate conceded defeat in a high-stakes repeat election.

Softly-spoken former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said ‘Thank You, Istanbul’ in a televised speech tonight.   

‘It was not a single group or party, but the whole of Istanbul and Turkey that won this election,’ Imamoglu said in his victory speech as scenes of his ecstatic supporters broke out across the city of 15 million.

In a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured), an opposition candidate declared victory in the Istanbul mayor’s race for a second time today after the government-backed candidate conceded defeat in a high-stakes repeat election 

‘Mr President, I am ready to work in harmony with you. I convey from here my request to meet with you in the shortest time possible,’ he added.

His supporters were jubilant after unofficial results showed he won the mayorship of Europe’s largest city in a clear majority of the vote as the election was rerun at Erdogan’s request.

His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after early returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54 per cent to 45 per cent.

The outcome means Turkey’s largest city won’t be governed by Erdogan’s party or its predecessor for the first time in 25 years.

Hundreds of opposition supporters erupted in mass celebration outside the headquarters of the Republican People’s Party, which backed Imamoglu, chanting ‘Mayor again! Mayor again!’

Imamoglu narrowly won a previous mayoral election on March 31, but Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party challenged the vote. 

Softly-spoken former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said 'Thank You, Istanbul' in a televised victory speech tonight.

Softly-spoken former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said ‘Thank You, Istanbul’ in a televised victory speech tonight.

His relentlessly upbeat campaign paid off with an emphatic win on tonight, extending his margin of victory from just 13,000 votes in March to more than 775,000. 

Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts. Imamoglu served 18 days as mayor and was stripped of the post with the board’s order for a another election.

‘You have protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey with the whole world watching,’ Imamoglu, his voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, told supporters.

Erdogan campaigned for Yildirim in Istanbul, where the president started his political career as mayor in 1994.

His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after early returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54 per cent to 45 per cent

His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after early returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54 per cent to 45 per cent

Erdogan’s party, AKP, also lost control of the capital city of Ankara in Turkey’s March local elections, which were held as the country faced an economic downturn.

The voided vote in Istanbul had raised concerns domestically and abroad about the state of Turkish democracy and whether Erdogan’s party, which has been in control of the Turkish government since 2002, would accept any electoral loss.

Erdogan’s party still controls 25 of Istanbul’s 39 districts and a majority in the municipal assembly. Imamoglu will have to work with those officeholders to govern Istanbul.

Addressing Erdogan in his speech, Imamoglu said, ‘I’m ready to work with you’ to solve Istanbul’s problems. The president has previously signalled an unwillingness to do so.

Istanbul, a city of 15 million, draws millions of tourists each year and is Turkey’s commercial and cultural hub. 

Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul accounted for 31 per cent  of Turkey’s GDP in 2017.  

Born in 1970 in the Black Sea coastal city of Trabzon in northeast Turkey, Imamoglu was a little-known district mayor in the western suburb of Beylikduzu where he had built a reputation as a competent but unflashy administrator.

Hundreds of opposition supporters erupted in mass celebration outside the headquarters of the Republican People's Party, which backed Imamoglu, chanting 'Mayor again! Mayor again!

Hundreds of opposition supporters erupted in mass celebration outside the headquarters of the Republican People’s Party, which backed Imamoglu, chanting ‘Mayor again! Mayor again!

A key advantage has been his ability to reach beyond the normal demographic of his staunchly secular Republican People’s Party (CHP).

A practising Muslim, he also shares a passion for football with Erdogan, having played at amateur level and still serving on the board of his hometown Trabzonspor team.

Imamoglu studied business management before entering his family’s lucrative real estate and restaurant business in western Istanbul.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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