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President Erdogan lost in the Turkish municipal elections

Ekrem Imamoglu, the Republican People's Party mayor of Istanbul, won the match in the country's largest city by a larger margin than exit polls had predicted. The left-wing pro-Kurdish Democratic Democratic Party, which supported İmamoğlu in the dramatic 2019 mayoral election, has hurt its cause by fielding its own candidate.

But in contrast, the regime's candidate Murat Kurum lost an equal number of votes, about 2%, to the Yeniden Refah Party, a conservative Islamist party that had previously supported the AKP. In several major cities, Yeniden Refah, the “new welfare party,” attracted ten percent or more of traditional voter support for the AKP. Among other things, Yeniden Refa attacked the regime's and Erdogan's “soft” policies towards Israel and Egypt.

CHP supporters celebrate in Istanbul on Sunday evening.

Photography: Ozan Koussa/Agence France-Presse

Sunday results It saved Turkish politics from descending into complete predictability. Imamoglu, the country's most popular politician after Erdogan, has consolidated his position as his designated challenger in the presidential election in four years – if the regime allows him to run. In last year's presidential elections, the regime was on the verge of obstructing İmamoğlu with fanciful terrorism charges, but it avoided that discomfort when the then leader of the Republican People's Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, insisted on standing against Erdogan himself despite his weak public opinion.

In Diyarbakir, Turkey's second-largest Kurdish city – after Istanbul – the pro-Kurdish leftist party, the Democratic Democrats, won a landslide victory, with voter turnout nearly four times higher – 63% – than the AKP, which finished second. However, it is unclear whether the party's newly elected mayors, there and in about fifty other places, will be able to exercise their office; Elected Kurdish mayors were removed in 2019 with few exceptions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emina cast their votes in Istanbul on Sunday.

Photography: Murat Kula/Turkish Presidency/Agence France-Presse

The Justice and Development Party led by Erdogan did this In other words, smooth elections against the backdrop of the inflated hopes of Erdogan's election rhetoric – and under the regime's complete media dominance. Official and pro-regime newspapers and television channels barely mentioned the opposition candidates, mainly in negative terms.

On the other hand, the initial position of the regime was more difficult than it had been for a long time. The painful process of economic restructuring, which caused rampant inflation, hit low-income groups, where the majority of AKP voters come from. Millions of people are still living with the consequences of last year's earthquake – one that had dire consequences because the ruling party allowed construction fraud: builders were not allowed to reinforce concrete if they paid a “fine.” The 40 billion SEK that was supposed to go toward earthquake protection after the 1999 earthquake appears to have disappeared.

Despite popular anger over everything that happened after the earthquake, the regime won last year's presidential elections, a political achievement. She made it through this mayoral election fairly unscathed as well. There are many indicators that the AKP can win elections and retain political power even without imprisoning, persecuting, and disqualifying its opponents.

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