İmamoğlu appears poised for another victory in Istanbul on Sunday - analysis

Turkey’s main opposition Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu has demonstrated through his solid support base, a broader and deeper opposition coalition than Turkey has ever seen, that another victory in Sunday’s election is very much within reach, wrote Louis Fishman, assistant professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and expert on Turkish affairs, wrote in Haaretz.

The secularist Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) İmamoğlu defeated ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Binali Yıldırım in the Istanbul mayoral vote by a slim margin on March 31. However, the Islamist AKP appealed the polls, citing fraud and irregularities at ballots and the country’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) ruled for a June 23 rerun. 

İmamoğlu was in office for 17 days before the election was annulled, however, he has only gained more popularity since he first brought an end to the AKP ruling party’s two-decade hold over the city, Fishman wrote.

The 49-year-old soft-spoken CHP candidate’s relatively conservative take has attracted even voters from the traditional AKP base, the article said, stressing that İmamoğlu’s inclusive platform is evident in the large numbers women wearing headscarves who show up for his rallies.

The CHP, which has traditionally prided itself in its staunch secular stance, has found a star in İmamoğlu, who has even managed to win over Kurdish voters.

The jailed former pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on Tuesday tweeted his support for Imamoglu to his large following in Istanbul.

The HDP has not named a candidate in Istanbul in either Istanbul mayoral vote, in an unprecedented show of support of the secularist CHP. 

According to Ahval contributor Giran Özcan, the HDP through this principled stance has sent two important messages: that the AKP will lose without the Kurds and the CHP cannot win without them.

The CHP candidate is offering something new to Istanbul, while AKP’s Yıldırım is trying to win on past AKP achievements, the article said.

The ruling party, however, can barely boast of its past achievements, Fishman wrote, as it faces problems such as the country’s ailing economy, dramatic price hikes on food and vegetables, soaring unemployment, among others.

İmamoğlu’s messaging and proven popularity point to solid evidence that he will score another victory in Turkey’s largest city, the article concluded.