Local elections in Turkey weaken Erdogan

This is good news for Turkey. There are signs that many in Turkey have grown tired of Erdogan's Islamism.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced the prospect Monday of a stinging electoral defeat in Istanbul, the city whose politics he dominated for a quarter of a century, with vote results showing what appeared to be an opposition victory in the race for the city’s mayor. Members of Erdogan’s ruling party vowed to challenge the outcome.

Victories by candidates from Turkey’s main opposition party in several of the country’s largest cities, including Ankara, the capital, were a significant symbolic defeat for Erdogan — denting his aura of invincibility and providing a surge of confidence to an opposition party that Erdogan for decades has easily outflanked.

The local elections Sunday across Turkey were widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s policies and produced mixed results. His ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, led all other parties in the elections and, along with a coalition partner, captured a majority of the vote.

But the loss of Istanbul, if confirmed, would be an especially harsh blow to the president. Erdogan rose to national prominence as the city’s mayor from 1994 to 1998. The city has served since then as a source of wealth and prestige for his party and a showcase — with its sprinting construction, megaprojects and multiplying mosques — for his broader ideological vision.

“That kingdom belonged not to the AKP, but to Erdogan,” said Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. “Psychologically, it is a big loss.”
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