Home World News Turkey’s Local Elections A Pivotal Moment For Opposition, Erdogan

Turkey’s Local Elections A Pivotal Moment For Opposition, Erdogan

These local elections are shaping up to be a critical test for the opposition's ability to mount a unified challenge against Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and in Kyiv, Ukraine
A file photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right) and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine in February 2020

As Turkey gears up for crucial local elections on Sunday, March 31, analysts are viewing these polls as a potential turning point for the country’s opposition parties, which face the threat of being sidelined by an increasingly authoritarian regime under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

For Erdogan himself, who has hinted at this being his “last election” before handing over responsibility to the next generation, the stakes are equally high. While the president is not on the ballot, he has actively campaigned across the country, fuelling speculation about his future political ambitions despite constitutional term limits.

The local elections hold particular significance in Istanbul, where Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered a stinging defeat in 2019. The AKP is determined to reclaim the city, but standing in its way is Ekrem Imamoglu, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate seeking re-election as mayor.

However, the opposition camp faces challenges, with the three major parties – CHP, the nationalist Good Party (IYI), and the pro-Kurdish DEM – fielding their own candidates, potentially splitting the anti-AKP vote.

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In Istanbul, where one-fifth of Turkey’s population resides and a significant portion of the country’s exports and imports flow through, the race between Imamoglu and the AKP’s Murat Kurum is too close to call, with recent polls showing only a 1.2 percentage point difference.

As Turkey heads to the polls, these local elections are shaping up to be a critical test for the opposition’s ability to mount a unified challenge against Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. The outcome could either embolden the opposition or further solidify the president’s grip on power, making these elections a pivotal moment in Turkey’s political trajectory.

Also See:
Why Turkey Local Elections Are Key To Erdogan’s Power Game

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In a career spanning over three decades and counting, I’ve been the Foreign Editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and The New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com.

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