Istanbul is the key Turkish municipality, which election results have the greatest influence on Turkey's domestic policy, that is why the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) cannot accept its defeat in the Istanbul mayoral race, Turkish political and economic scientist Aydin Sezer said, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza.
"Istanbul has always had a special place in the political life of our country, and the outcome of elections held in this city determines Turkey's domestic policy. The results of the municipal election, won by the People's Republican party candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, were not unexpected, since they reflected the voters' current assessment of the country's economic situation. Despite the authorities' attempts to focus the attention of citizens on foreign policy issues and convince them of Turkey's economic vitality, people have shown their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs," he stressed.
"As a result, the opposition gained an advantage in large cities, without expecting it. The AKP was the leader in municipal elections in general, but the People's Republican party succeeded in such important megalopolises as Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya and Adana. It’s easy to explain, because consequences of the economic crisis have been the most tangible in Istanbul and Ankara. In addition, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party did not nominate its candidates there and supported the People's Republican party candidates. As a result, a very strong bloc opposed the ruling authorities in the election, " Aydin Sezer said.
The political analyst recalled that Istanbul is fundamentally important for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Erdogan criticized the AKP for failing to cope with the loss of rating in key cities. Istanbul is the city headed by Erdogan in the 90s. The President emphasizes his love for Istanbul at every opportunity, for him it is a symbol of power in all respects - both as Turkey's largest city and the most important economic center. Erdogan said that if the party fails in Istanbul, it will stumble," he explained.
At the same time, Aydin Sezer stressed that the Justice and Development Party suffered only image losses due to the defeat in Istanbul and Ankara. "It's got 4.5 years left before the presidential and parliamentary elections. In legal terms it’s impossible to say that Erdogan's position is weakening, but he has to do more to restore the lost image, because people will remember his party's failures in major cities," the expert said.
He also added that the results of the municipal election will not change Turkey’s foreign policy. "Turkey has been on the verge of foreign policy conflicts in recent years: Washington’s pressure on Ankara because of the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system, disagreements with Russia on the situation in Idlib. Turkey will be dealing with all these problems despite the election results," Aydin Sezer concluded.