Turkey’s President Suffers Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo

Turkey’s President Suffers Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo

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ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey suffered the biggest defeat of his political career on Sunday as his candidate for Istanbul mayor conceded defeat in a repeat election, two months after Mr. Erdogan’s party forced the cancellation of the same vote after it lost. The result wrests control over the country’s largest city from Mr. Erdogan, ending his party’s 25-year dominance of the city. Opponents say such a loss cracks the president’s aura of invincibility and could be the beginning of the end of his 16-year rule over the country. Istanbul is Mr. Erdogan’s home as well as political base, where he began his political career as mayor.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, center, in Istanbul after casting his ballot on Sunday.CreditMurad Sezer/Reuters
And while Mr. Erdogan has acquired sweeping powers under a new presidential system and controls all of the levers of power, a degree of democracy has remained as he has always sought legitimacy through the ballot box and assured citizens of the integrity of the process. The ANKA news agency reported that with 100 percent of votes counted, the opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, led with 54 percent, compared with 45 percent for Mr. Erdogan’s chosen candidate, Binali Yildirim.

Two hours after polls closed, Mr. Yildirim went on national television and conceded defeat. “As of now, my competitor Imamoglu is leading. I congratulate him, wish him success,” he said. “I wish our friend Ekrem Imamoglu will bring good services to Istanbul.”

Officials from the main opposition party, the People’s Republican Party, said they did not expect Mr. Erdogan’s party to challenge the result at the High Election Council because Mr. Yildirim had conceded so early. Source New York Times

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