Editorial | The mood in Turkey may change when the opposition gets stronger

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP party suffered its biggest defeat in local elections so far.

TTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP party suffered their biggest defeat yet in Sunday's local elections. As a result of the election result, the current mayor of Istanbul, the moderate leader of the Republican People's Party CHP Ekrem İmamoğlu, is confirmed as Erdoğan's challenger in the opposition. Erdoğan is himself a former mayor of Istanbul

The opposition party CHP was also the largest party in the capital Ankara and many large cities such as Izmir, Bursa and Adana. Success also came in conservative outlying areas. For the first time since its founding, the AKP is not the most popular party in Turkey. How harsh the defeat will ultimately be for the autocratic Erdoğan cannot be directly assessed. His position will not be shaken yet, as there are no parliamentary or presidential elections in the next few years. Support is, however, channeled to the opposition with the new law.

In Turkey, the economy always affects elections, and Erdoğan is estimated to fall only with the Turkish economy. The economy is the explanation for the AKP's losses even now, although at the same time the thesis can be questioned. Erdoğan, who pursues a strong Islamic identity policy, has remained in power both in ups and downs.

Some of the conservative voters were now punishing the AKP for the cost of living crisis, but there may also be something new in the air, as the opposition's victory is remarkably wide. Erdoğan has also identified his challenger some time ago. When İmamoğlu won the Istanbul mayoral election in 2019, the AKP got the Turkish election authority to order new elections. However, İmamoğlu also won the re-election.

Although mayors in Turkey have little political room for maneuver, Istanbul is a huge metropolis whose pulse tells the mood of secular Turkey. Even the fact that the atmosphere is changing is a positive signal for Turkey's Western partners, because during his 20-year reign Erdoğan has tried to strangle Turkish democracy. Erdoğan's grip is hardly delicate, but another kind of Turkey seems possible.

The editorials are HS's positions on a current topic. The articles are prepared by HS's editorial department, and they reflect the magazine principle line.

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