Erdoğan’s rule may end before 2023 elections - analysis

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose party lost Istanbul to the opposition, may not succeed in holding his office until the next presidential elections in 2023, U.S. weekly newspaper The National Herald said on Thursday.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu declared victory in Istanbul, after defeating his ruling party rival in the rerun election on June 23. İmamoğlu was the winner of the previous mayoral race on March 31, which was annulled after the ruling party appealed the results over electoral irregularities.

The CHP mayor elect's victory is the first time the Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors have lost Istanbul in local polls since Erdoğan won the mayoral election in 1994.

By attracting even the conservative voters that previously voted for the AKP, İmamoğlu, who has increased his lead in the mayoral race from less than 14,000 votes to over 800,000 in less than three months, has become a strong "alternative to Erdoğan" in Turkish politics, said The National Herald.

In addition to Istanbul, the AKP's losses in four of the five other largest cities of the country in the local polls on March 31 would also weaken the AKP financially, according to the National Herald. "This means the resources AKP had access to and which helped to catapult it to centre stage will in all probability diminish,” it said.

Citing to Erdoğan's famous assertion, "Whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey", the weekly said the Turkish leader's position is no longer under guarantee considering the underperforming economy and serious foreign policy challenges.

While internal cracks in Erdoğan's party that may cause a split of the conservative vote in the future elections, the AKP’s setback in the local polls has also instilled hope among those who wish to see a reversal to secularism in Turkey, according to the weekly.

The Turkish military, seen as the guardians of secularism in the country by the majority of Turks, has not interrupted Erdoğan's policies of Islamisation in Turkey so far, which was a correct stance from the standpoint for democracy, The National Herald said.

"But it also amounts to a less progressive Turkey," the weekly said.