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Home / World / Turkey: Istanbul votes in "historical" repetition of mayoral election | news

Turkey: Istanbul votes in "historical" repetition of mayoral election | news

Istanbul, Turkey – Residents of Istanbul are back in the polling station in a repeat of the mayoral elections held about three months ago.

The recurrence comes weeks after Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), won the competition in the Turkish Trade Center by a narrow margin over Binali Yildirim the ruling . Party for Justice and Development (AK party).

Voting began at 8:00 local time (5:00 GMT) and continues until 1

7:00 local time (140:00 GMT) in 31,342 ballot boxes in 39 districts of Istanbul.

The results of the polls of March 31 were a heavy blow to the AK party, which lost control of the provincial capital of Ankara and the third-largest city of Izmir in the same local polls .

The AK Party, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, successfully campaigned for a repeat of the mayoral election in Istanbul after Imamoglu secured the seat with only 13,729 votes difference.

Imamoglu was only in office for 18 days when the Turkish electoral board rescheduled in the country's largest city, citing "situations that influenced the outcome and honesty of the polls". The decision came after the AK Party, which ruled Istanbul over the last two decades, had made an "extraordinary protest" against the outcome.

In a country with very few swing voters, the inhabitants of Turkey have a deep-seated loyalty to their respective political decisions.

s "happy" would be a new vote.

"CHP has cheated … so another option that is not tampered with is better," said Kamat, a private security officer who demanded that his last name not be used.

[ ired of their lies #

Across the divide, similar words are used to support CHP.

Zeynep, who for fear of reprisals did not mention her surname, said she was tired of the AK party's "lies."

"They stole power from Imamoglu and they oppress the media and everyone, thinking as they always did," the 61-year-old told Al Jazeera.

"I'm fed up with the AK Party, I'm tired of the lies and what they did to this country."

According to Soner Cagaptay, D Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute, The Mayors Repeat is a historic turning point in the country.

Cagaptay has never before said in Turkey's history that since 1950, when it became a multiparty democracy, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) had reversed an important election result.

"This is the first time … the loser did not accept the result, they challenged what they wanted and they got a revote," Cagaptay told Al Jazeera.

"The board really could not stand Erdogan's political personality and bowed to him."

On Sunday, during the first live TV debate in Turkey, Imamoglu talked about the repetition of a "democracy struggle" for 17 years.

"It is a challenge of democracy … I am an elected mayor of the metropolis … [so this is] a challenge against those who have claimed our rights," Imamoglu said.

Economic hardships

While Turkey has experienced its first recession in a decade, Istanbul's mayoral candidates have focused on unemployment, poverty and living costs.

According to the latest data from the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2017, Istanbul, with 970 billion Turkish lira ( 166.6 billion USD) accounted for just over 31 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) means that the city has a bigger economy than countries like Finland and Egypt, Portugal and Greece.

Nevertheless, the distress GDP per capita has fallen in the last six years, putting pressure on many in Istanbul.

Social media users used the live debate on Sunday to ask if the candidates would indicate their value in their election.

Yildirim of the AK Party replied that there was no such "tradition". "But there is no problem for me, we are ready to be held accountable," he said.

For reasons of "honesty," CHP's Imamoglu said it was a "pleasure" to do so. [19659033] Istanbul Mayor's Race 2 “/>

Imamoglu's new slogan, which means "Everything will be very beautiful," was plastered throughout Istanbul in the weeks leading up to the vote. [Tessa Fox/ Al Jazeera]

Campaign signs throughout the city Over the past few weeks, it has been openly competing with each other to decide which site will offer the best deal or even free daily necessities such as gas, water and transportation.

CHP promises a 40 percent reduction in water consumption Prices and monthly support to needy families, including distributing free milk to "poor and needy Istanbulers".

The AK party has promised a better deal: a 46 percent discount on water bills and 10 percent on gas, as well as monthly support for low-income families of 50 Lira s ($ 8.6) for gas and 80 Lira (13.73 US dollars) for utility bills.

Claim Claiming–Ideas

Student discounts became a major issue after Imamoglu proposed to charge monthly fees during his 18-day tenure. The tuition fee for university students should be 50 lira (8.6 USD)

. During this time, Imamoglu began broadcasting community meetings in which the AK party voted against the student transportation discount.

  Race of the Istanbul Mayors

A billboard by the AK party states that the first hour of parking will be free. This is an example of the list of offers and giveaways that address both candidates to the people of Istanbul [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

] Ahmet Aksoy *, a English literary student and CHP supporter, was one of those who wrote the Reactions in the social media following the rejection of the AK party persecuted.

"The next day, the AK party suggested it was a 40-lira ($ 6.86) dis number, which was accepted by the majority and now they claim it was theirs own idea, "said Aksoy.

"Before the election on March 31, the AK Party made no major promises [about discounts]] … the main topic they talked about was peace and anti-PKK, anti-Kurdish Propaganda, "he added, referring to the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).

FETO Relations

Meanwhile, a failed coup attempt three years ago is still a major political and security problem.

Ankara claims that the coup was by exiled Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen The government calls Gulens movement the Fethullah "Terror" Organization (FETO).

Since the failed coup Gulens Turkish government has cleansed and detained supporters of state institutions.

During the live debate, the Candi dates were asked if they ever had links to Gulen; if they had attended one of his schools; and what they would do in the fight against FETO.

Both Yildirim and Imamoglu answered "no" several times.

Shortly thereafter, several videos by Yildirim were made. They are from 2013 and are said to have linked him to Gulen and participated in Gulen-organized events. He has not yet publicly commented on the videos.

Before the debate ended, the Turkish news website Takvim published various screenshots of Imamoglu's Twitter account from 2013 and 2014.

  People are watching a television debate between the mayoral candidates of Istanbul, Imamoglu of CHP, and Yildirim by AKP, in a café in the center of Istanbul

People are watching a TV debate between mayoral candidates of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu of CHP, and Binali Yildirim of the AK Party in a café in the center of Istanbul, Turkey. June 16, 2019 [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Ahmet, the student, said Gulen had been such a large part of Turkish politics and economics for so long that it would be difficult for politicians not to connect with him or his group.

"At some point, if you ever got into politics here … someday you would have met them," said Ahmet.

"Strategically, that makes sense [to say they don’t] … at the moment someone says yes … they will attack him so I understand that."

The AK Party friend Kamat vehemently rejected the validity of Yildirim videos and said there is no possibility that the AK party has ties to FETO.

"But I'm suspicious that Imamoglu has links to FETO, and even though he's not affiliated with FETO, he's connected to people who support FETO," he argued.

* The name was changed at the request of the respondent due to the sensitivity of the subject.

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