Apr 04 2019

Could İmamoğlu be Turkey’s next president? - BBC

Ekrem İmamoğlu’s apparent victory in the race for Istanbul mayor has the potential to catapult him into contention for the presidency in Turkey’s next election in 2023, the BBC suggested in a report on Thursday.

In press conferences and on his Twitter profile, Ekrem İmamoğlu of the opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), says he is Istanbul’s new mayor. Preliminary results from the election board show he won Sunday’s election by some 25,000 votes.

But across the city the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has put up victory posters, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım thanking Istanbul for the win. The AKP has challenged the Istanbul results and ordered recounts, and is also contesting the CHP victory in Ankara.

“President Erdogan, it seems, is not ready to let go of Istanbul - Turkey's economic powerhouse and his home city, which he himself once ran as mayor,” said the BBC.

"It's not polite behaviour," İmamoğlu told the BBC, referring to the AKP posters. "We have the results from the electoral board and we know who is in the lead.”

"Up until yesterday, the government and the ruling party were claiming that Turkey had the most credible voting system and they were giving it the highest praise. One million people were on duty at polling stations that night,” İmamoğlu added. "Now the only explanation I have is that they are making excuses for their failure."

The challenge by the government has led to allegations of hypocrisy, particularly after it denied the opposition the right to challenge the disputed election result in Ankara in 2014.

“The loss of Ankara, Istanbul and several other cities would be a serious blow to Mr Erdoğan and could be a turning point after 16 years of his rule,” said the BBC.

İmamoğlu was asked if this could be the beginning of the end of the president's hold on power. "Everything comes to an end," he told the BBC. "Parties, governments, life itself.”

Could Ekrem İmamoğlu be the next president of Turkey, the BBC asked.

"God knows," he responded.