Opp. candidate set for comfortable victory in Istanbul re-run election

June 24, 2019

Turkey's main opposition party appeared headed for victory on Sunday in a re-run of Istanbul's mayoral election, dealing one of the biggest blows to President Erdoğan during his 16 years in power.

Watch Euronews journalist Enis Günaydın's explain the municipal elections in the video player above

The Turkish leader congratulated opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu on Sunday for winning the election according to unofficial results.

Turkey's AK Party candidate for Istanbul mayor Binali Yıldırım admitted on Sunday his opposition rival Ekrem İmamoğlu was ahead for now, offering his congratulations and saying he hoped İmamoğlu would serve the city well.

Yıldırım, speaking minutes after Turkish broadcasters said Imamoglu had 53.6% of the votes after nearly 95% of the ballots had been opened, said the election showed that Turkey's democracy was functioning perfectly.

Opposition leader hails "new beginning" for Istanbul

Reacting to early results, İmamoğlu hailed a "new beginning" for Istanbul and said he was ready to work with President Erdoğan to serve the city.

Istanbul voted in Ekrem İmamoğlu of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on March 31, but the Supreme Electoral Council annulled the vote after the ruling AKP party alleged that there were irregularities.

In March, İmamoğlu won the election in Istanbul by a slim margin of just 24,000 votes in a city of more than 10 million voters. Just 18 days after taking the seat, the governor of Istanbul took over İmamoğlu's seat as acting mayor.

Who are the candidates?

İmamoğlu was previously mayor in one of Istanbul's districts. He is supported by the Pro-Kurdish HDP, the Islamist SP and the Good Party, another ultra-nationalist party founded by former members of MHP. İmamoğlu says he will be more transparent and be more cautious on spending.

Yıldırım was Turkey's last prime minister before the country transitioned to a fully presidential system. He is backed by the ultra-nationalist party MHP. Yıldırım promised Istanbul residents solutions for the heavy traffic.

Between 1994 and 1998, Erdoğan was mayor of Istanbul. Erdoğan has said that the party ruling Istanbul is the party ruling Turkey.

The election will be pivotal in determining the extent of the Erdoğan's grip on power in the country. Roughly a fifth of Turkey's population lives in Istanbul.

Polls have closed at 4 pm Central European Time on Sunday.

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