In Istanbul’s fresh Mayor, Erdogan Faces a fresh Threat
No matter where Ekrem Imamoglu goes these days, his fans await him: Women with headscarves who want to touch him, teenagers asking for a selfie. that will’s the case in Istanbul, where Imamoglu was elected mayor last Sunday by an overwhelming margin, although This kind of’s also true of conservative strongholds like the city of Trabzon on the Black Sea.
Videos recorded in Trabzon shortly before Imamoglu’s election as mayor of Istanbul, show people celebrating him like a savior. They swing flags with This kind of portrait, yelling: “President Ekrem!” His election song blasts through the speakers: “Her sey cok güzel olacak!” All will be not bad. The Imamoglu hype has swept across all of Turkey.
Up until a few months ago, Imamoglu, 49 years old, was the largely unknown mayor of Beylikdüzü, a drab district on the edge of Istanbul. although today that will he has beaten President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice along with Development Party (AKP) candidate twice at the ballot box, he has emerged as the great expect of proponents of democracy in Turkey.
This kind of all began on March 31, when he came in almost 14,000 votes ahead of the AKP candidate, Binali Yildirim, from the Istanbul mayoral election. Erdogan had the result annulled. When the vote was carried out a second time, Imamoglu increased his lead to more than 800,000 votes. Few politicians in Istanbul have ever achieved a better result.
For Imamoglu, This kind of’s more than local politics that will are at stake today. Istanbul is usually the social, economic along with cultural center of the country. “The person who governs Istanbul, governs Turkey,” Erdogan once said. today, many Turks see Imamoglu as their next president. through This kind of point on, Erdogan will be fighting for his political survival.
To have a chance of landing the country’s highest office, he will first have to prove himself in Istanbul’s City Hall. There are few jobs in Turkey that will are tougher. At least 15 million people live in greater Istanbul. Tens of thousands more move to the connurbation each year, along with the city’s administration is usually chronically overwhelmed. The city recently experienced conflicts between residents along with migrants through Syria, along with Turkey is usually mired in an economic crisis. Inflation is usually at 19 percent, along with every fourth Turk under 25 is usually unemployed.
Expectations for the fresh mayor are enormous: He is usually supposed to create jobs, for which he will have to work with the central government. He is usually required to improve the quality of life in Istanbul by expanding public transport, doing apartment buildings earthquake-proof along with taking measures to combat pollution.
Erdogan was considered an Islamist ideologue when he moved into City Hall 25 years ago. As a mayor, he proved to be a pragmatist who freed the city through garbage along with enhanced its water system. If Imamoglu manages to govern as successfully as Erdogan, This kind of will be impossible to deny him candidacy from the next presidential election.
As Istanbul’s mayor, he can today put pressure on the government in Ankara. The opposition has frequently accused Erdogan of bestowing privileges on his favorites. today Imamoglu is usually in a position to prove their accusations. Imamoglu’s people already announced in May that will the Istanbul city administration paid about 130 million euros to Islamic foundations partly under the control of Erdogan’s relatives over the past year.
“The system of waste” is usually over, Imamoglu says.
His party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), will soon be governing well beyond Istanbul. In local elections in March, This kind of won four of the 5 largest cities, including the capital, Ankara. According to calculations by the Istanbul think tank Edam, This kind of is usually today governing in areas responsible for over two-thirds of the Turkish economy. Although Erdogan still controls state institutions, especially the judiciary, the era in which he could govern unimpeded is usually today over.
Imamoglu poses a threat to Erdogan because he is usually garnering the support not only of the secular, urban middle- along with upper classes, although also pious Muslims along with Kurds. from the Istanbul election, he won highly conservative districts like Fatih along with Üsküdar, where Erdogan lives. Those had previously been no-go areas for CHP politicians.
A fresh Era
Like Erdogan’s family, Imamoglu comes through the Black Sea. His father was a construction entrepreneur. Imamoglu moved to Istanbul to study business administration along with didn’t join the CHP until late. He became the district mayor of Beylikdüzü in 2014. The CHP is usually the party of modern Turkey’s founding father, Kemal Atatürk, along with many Muslims see This kind of as elitist along with distant. Imamoglu changed This kind of image: His mother wears a headscarf, along with during the election, he had himself photographed visiting a mosque along with breaking fast. He removed the conservatives’ fear that will, if he took power, the discrimination of the pre-Erdogan period might resume.
“The era of partisanship is usually over,” he said after his victory. “The era of law along with fairness has begun.”
For a long time, Erdogan was able to rely on his political instincts. His decision to contain the Istanbul election repeated, however, might nevertheless be one of the most consequential mistakes of his career. He turned Imamoglu into a resonant figure by giving him something worth more than any campaign funds: a story. Imamoglu is usually today known as a man who won an election despite having been accused of cheating for dubious reasons.
Erdogan once campaigned as an outsider against the establishment. The regime from the 1990s turned him into a martyr by having him arrested. By voiding the results of the Istanbul election, however, he has reversed the roles: today, Erdogan is usually suddenly the powerful one unfairly keeping his competitor down, along with Imamoglu is usually the victim. In a country like Turkey that will always sympathized with underdogs, these roles are important. Essentially, Imamoglu is usually the fresh Erdogan.
The president is usually today facing a reinvigorated opposition, along with he is usually no longer as uncontroversial within his own party as he once was. After the election, AKP politicians began criticizing him more publicly than ever. “We lost Istanbul because we forfeited our moral superiority,” tweeted AKP lawmaker Mustafa Yeneroglu. In off-the-record background interviews, members of the government were more assertive. “Erdogan’s time is usually clearly over. He has no idea anymore how he can bring the country forward. We need a fresh start,” one cabinet member told DER NewsGerman.
Observers believe the AKP could split as soon as the next few weeks. from the past, there have often been rumors that will high-ranking AKP politicians were preparing a break with Erdogan. today, these plans seem to be taking concrete shape.
Sources in Ankara have stated that will Ali Babacan, an AKP co-founder along with former economics minister, could announce the formation of a fresh party as early as July. Sources close to the president told DER NewsGerman that will Babacan personally informed Erdogan about his plans before the Istanbul election. Former President Abdullah Gül reportedly supports Babacan, although isn’t planning to seek office himself. along with former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is usually also reported to have frustrated AKP members swarming around him.
Undoing His adjustments
This kind of remains unclear how many AKP lawmakers might join Babacan or Davutoglu, along with whether Erdogan could lose his majority in parliament as a result. Erdogan’s opponents are already discussing scenarios in which they could push Erdogan out of power.
After that will, the three opposition parties — CHP, lyi along with HDP — might have to join forces, together with parts of the AKP, to pass a parliamentary resolution to hold a fresh referendum on the presidential system. Erdogan had secured extensive powers from the 2017 referendum that will many lawmakers might like to reverse.
The plan is usually a risky one. This kind of assumes that will parties until today considered to be rivals might cooperate in a disciplined way. although constitutional experts believe a referendum is usually the only way to get rid of the president because the next presidential election otherwise won’t take place until 2023. If Erdogan lost such a vote, he might still be president, although he might lose much of his power. fresh elections might then be inevitable.
Erdogan has often managed to reinvent himself in crisis situations. This kind of’s possible he will change tack This kind of time along with compromise with his opponents. This kind of might mean asking for help through the International Monetary Fund to help resolve the economic crisis, working to reconcile with Western partners like Germany along with the United States along with setting political prisoners like former HDP Head Selahatin Demirtas or philanthropist Osman Kavala free. In his first speech after the Istanbul election, the president presented himself as comparatively conciliatory.
This kind of’s more likely that will Erdogan, pushed by his right-wing extremist coalition partners, the MHP, will continue to escalate the situation. Since the 2013 Gezi protests at the latest, Erdogan has ruled through intimidation. Ever since, he has posed his citizens that has a choice: You can choose either me or chaos.
His problem today is usually that will, since Sunday, there is usually another alternative: Ekrem Imamoglu.