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Istanbul polls a test for Erdogan

June 24, 2019

ISTANBUL: Istanbul people went back to the polls on Sunday in a re-run of the mayoral election that has become a test of Turkish democracy, as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s continued popularity at a time of economic trouble.

Election authorities annulled the first vote in March after Erdogan’s party alleged corruption in a count that showed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate had narrowly lost.

Critics say Erdogan simply did not like the March 31 result, after a little-known former district mayor, 49-year-old Ekrem Imamoglu, snatched victory for the opposition by just 13,000 votes.

Women use their mobile phones to take pictures with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R, rear) as he greets people after casting his ballot, outside a polling station in Istanbul, during the mayoral election re-run in Istanbul, on June 23, 2019. Istanbul went back to the polls on June 23, 2019 in a re-run of the mayoral election that has become a test of Turkish democracy as well as Turkish President’s continued popularity at a time of economic trouble. AFP PHOTO

The city of 15 million is Turkey’s economic powerhouse and has been a crucial source of patronage for Islamic conservatives since Erdogan himself won the mayorship a quarter-century ago.

But Imamoglu, of the secular Republican People’s Party, has become a household name since being stripped of his victory.

He has vowed a “battle for democracy” and used an upbeat message under the slogan “Everything will be fine,” in stark contrast to the usual aggressive name-calling of Turkish politics.

At a voting station in the trendy Beyoglu neighbourhood, 31-year-old architect Begum said: “I voted against injustice and those who seek to polarise this nation.”

Imamoglu faces Binali Yildirim, a mild-mannered Erdogan loyalist who oversaw several huge transport projects and served as prime minister.

Yildirim’s well-funded campaign has included ads on YouTube to attract younger voters and support from a pliant mainstream media.

Fearing fraud, the opposition has mobilised an army of lawyers from across Turkey to monitor Sunday’s election, with the Istanbul Bar Association unfurling a huge banner at their headquarters that reads: “Stand guard for democracy.”

AFP

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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