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.
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.”
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net