Hüseyin Çiçek in VN: Surprisingly clear – opposition triumph in Istanbul with symbolic effect
In an article in the Vorarlberger Nachrichten of 25 June 2019, political scientist and Turkey expert Hüseyin Çiçek, an associated EZIRE member, deals with the election victory of the opposition candidate Imamoglu in the new elections in the metropolis of Istanbul.
Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu has clearly won the mayoral elections in the Turkish metropolis of millions and thus also brought President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an unexpected defeat. Imamoglu from the largest opposition party, CHP, had won 54.21% of the vote, while the candidate from the ruling AKP party won only 44.99% – according to the figures, there were 805,415 votes between the two politicians. The turnout was 84.5%. “This is not a victory, this is a new beginning,” Imamoglu commented on his triumph, on which both Yildirim and Erdogan congratulated him.
According to the Vorarlberg political scientist Hüseyin Çiçek, Imamoglu’s victory has a symbolic effect. The Turkey expert refers to a quote from Erdogan, who himself began his political career as Istanbul’s mayor: “Whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey,” Erdogan used to say. Now the ruling party has lost Istanbul twice. “It has virtually taken itself out of the game twice,” Çiçek says. Imamoglu’s reaction was also remarkable: “He reacted very diplomatically and spoke of a new beginning for everyone. His wish is to work together harmoniously. This could also be interpreted as a demand for a return to the rule of law. At the same time the political scientist says: “Erdogan’s power is not directly endangered. After all, the next important elections are not due until 2023. Çiçek explains that the fact that the result was so clear is due to the strong mobilization of AKP opponents. “People were called and asked not to go on holiday, but to stay in Istanbul in order to vote and not leave Istanbul to the ruling party. There is no postal voting in Turkey”.
In addition, no sparking election slogan was found for Yildirim, explains Çiçek further: Imamoglu was able to convince with the slogan “Her sey cok güzel olacak” (everything will be fine), whereas the AKP had no real strategy to counter this.
There had been much praise internationally for the ballot. For example, the EU’s enlargement commissioner Johannes Han congratulated the citizens of Istanbul: they had given a “strong signal for democracy” – the will of the people must now be implemented. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert also stressed the high turnout and the overall peaceful course of the elections, which were all good signs for Turkey and for trust in state institutions of great importance.