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Six takeaways from Turkey's March 31 local elections thus far
Turkey’s opposition parties have demonstrated great resistance at the polls on Sunday, making some important gains in key cities such as İstanbul (where the result is not being reported by state-run Anadolu Agency), Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Adana, Mersin, Tekirdag, Hatay and Muğla. These are Turkey’s largest cities contributing most to the country's GDP.
The opposition bloc led by the Republican People's Party (CHP) can declare a victory in the March 31 elections for taking the biggest cities from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It was a good night for the bloc.
- The main opposition CHP’s metropolitan gains increased greatly. For pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) decision not to put forward any candidates for Istanbul and Ankara contributed greatly to this result.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP came in a little below 45 per cent, which is almost the same as the 2014 local elections. Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be a big defeat for the ruling party when it comes to the overall votes between 2019 to 2014. However, Erdogan's defeat is evident in large cities. Turkey's strongman may hove lost both Ankara and İstanbul for the first time since 1994.
- The pro-Kurdish HDP suffered some losses in Southeastern cities where they traditionally have impressive backing.
- The main opposition party garnered over 30 percent support, performing much better than the 2014 local elections in which CHP tallied 26.6 percent.
- The pro-Kurdish HDP and some other minority parties' strategic voting against ruling AKP in western cities have changed the course of the polls, tilting victory towards to opposition.
- Transparency, fairness and freeness of elections were greatly damaged. Turkey’s elections are already being held under unfair conditions in which the president of the country uses all of the state resources and manpower, alongside the media propaganda arms of public and private broadcasters. Now, Turkey’s state news agency, Anadolu, intervened in the results citing inexcusable reasons and stopping the stream of new data for Istanbul at the moment when the ruling AKP’s Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim declared a premature victory.