Erdoğan favoured despite his ruling AKP's poor performance in March vote - columnist

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters have no problems with President Recep Erdoğan, despite the party's weak showing in March 31 local elections, said Abdulkadir Selvi, columnist known for his close ties to the AKP.

"AK Party voters have no problem with Erdoğan. On the contrary, strong support for Erdoğan continues despite the ups and downs in the AK Party's votes," Selvi said in pro-government Hürriyet newspaper.

The local elections in Turkey were the first since Erdoğan gained sweeping new powers in the presidential elections held last June. However, Erdoğan's AKP lost control to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in several key cities, including capital Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and the Turkish president's political springboard that elected him mayor in 1994.

Many view the local election results as a defeat of Erdoğan since he held about 100 rallies across the country and stressed that the March 31 election was “a vote of confidence” in him and in his policies. Yet, the AKP lost 5 of 6 major cities in the local election, a defeat that marks discontent among people for the country's recent cumulative problems such as an ailing economy.

People still want Erdoğan, but an old version of him that is the former “Reis" (Chief), because they believe that he will fix the country’s problems, the columnist said. Reis is a term that has come to refer to Erdoğan among his supporters.