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2024 Turkish Elections: Erdogan Suffers Major Loss

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered an unprecedented defeat at the ballot box Sunday. The first major electoral loss for Erdogan’s party amid rampant inflation and the highest borrowing costs since 2001.

Turkey holds nationwide elections for city mayors, district mayors and other local officials who will serve for the next five years.

The setback for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party or AK Party, almost a year after Erdogan was re-elected as president in the 2023 Presidential elections, defeating opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party or CHP in a close runoff.

The major victory was the CHP, winning a plurality of elections for the first time in history, winning 37% of the vote.

The results Sunday have boosted the popularity of potential presidential candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, who won reelection in Istanbul, the largest city in Türkiye, with 51% of the vote. Imamoglu took the city in 2019 from the AK Party.

“The period of one-man rule is over today,” Imamoglu said. The 53-year-old businessman-turned-politician told cheering crowds in Istanbul on Sunday night.

Imamoglu received a major boost in prominence in 2022, after being arrested for insulting a public official. A move that most Turks saw as politically motivated. He had been floated around as a Vice President pick during the 2023 Presidential elections.

Erdogan acknowledged the defeat but pledged to gain back support before the 2028 Presidential elections in a speech on Sunday. “The March 31 elections mark a turning point. We weren’t able to get the results in local elections that we were hoping for.

Another factor in the AK Party’s loss was the defection of Islamist members to the pro-Islamist conservative New Welfare Party, which managed to gain 6% of the vote.

New Welfare Party has been critical of Erdogan for his economic policies and his continuation of trade with Israel despite the ongoing invasion of Gaza.

Another victory on Sunday was the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party or DEM Party, a pro-Kurdish political party, which saw a bump up to 5% of the vote, passing the Nationalist Movement Party and the Good Party.

The election is largely seen as a condemnation of the economic situation in Türkiye.  Inflation nearing 70% and a slowdown in growth brought on by an aggressive monetary tightening moved voters away from the AK Party.

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