Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s Oppo-Party Mayor
His election victory was a stinging indictment of President Erdogan’s economic policies.
Erdogan’s party had already lost Turkey’s capital, Ankara, and other big cities in March balloting as inflation, unemployment, and a plunging lira took their toll. But he refused to concede defeat in Istanbul, crying voter fraud after Imamoglu won by 14,000 votes. After Turkey’s top election board made the controversial decision to rerun the race, Imamoglu increased his margin of victory to 800,000 votes.
The president’s detractors in the city erupted in celebration at their first big political win since Erdogan became Turkey’s leader 16 years ago. Building on his reputation as someone who works across political lines, Imamoglu ran on a message of unity, with the campaign slogan “Everything Is Going to Be Great.” He also promised to tackle waste and debt
If Imamoglu does well, the president could have a challenger on his hands in 2023: The mayoralty was the springboard for Erdogan’s own national political career.
By Cagan Koc,