2024April 2024WorldInternational News

Turkish Opposition Gets Victory in Local Elections

Juliana Mori
Staff Writer

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Local Turkish elections are unfolding and recent news shows that the future of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and current President Tayyip Erdoğan is uncertain. According to Brookings, Erdoğan’s early vows for Türkiye were to bring forth democratic reform but after almost decades of leadership the government has devolved into being “authoritarian and dysfunctional.” Erdoğan has remained in power because of economic instability and social uncertainty. He is popular among older generations transitioning Türkiye from a secular state to a nation that favors Islam. AP News reports that his endurance and continued power give voters a sense of stability because they do not want more change within the nation. However, according to BBC, many Turkish citizens are upset with his slow response to the 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquakes, the refugee crisis, and economic hardships.  


In the last election, Erdoğan lost substantial support in urban areas to the opposition because of the rising cost of living, incredibly high inflation, and his inability to address or reform the economy, according to i24News and Aljazeera. Erdoğan has lost the support of Gen-Z, as the young generation often trolls his livestreams and protests on social media. The frustration from Gen-Z stems from the “poor pandemic planning” and the severe religiosity of Erdoğan. Erdoğan has significantly increased the number of vocational institutions that prepare young boys to become imams and preachers as the Turkish youth rejects religion, according to Foreign Policy


Erdoğan’s leadership continues to be criticized because of his incompetence in responding quickly to the 2023 Turkish Earthquakes which resulted in more than 50,000 deaths; recovery was slow and many communities continue to feel the effect of the natural disaster. This, combined with Syrian refugees in Türkiye, has caused a lot of contention amongst the Turkish population. The Syrian population is fleeing their nation’s ongoing civil war, with many Syrians living in “safe zones” that are controlled by Turkish authorities, as reported by Human Rights Watch. According to The Guardian, about 80 percent of the Turkish population wants the Syrians in Türkiye to be repatriated. As more refugees flee to Türkiye xenophobia and resentment of Erdoğan’s policies grow exponentially. 


This election is important for the future of Türkiye due to the effects of Erdoğan’s administration, with his government evolving to be more Islamic and autocratic, reports The New York Times. There is a stark difference between Erdoğan at the beginning of his tenure and the present, between which he has cracked down on citizen rights since the 2016 coup d’etat attempt. This unsuccessful coup resulted in the arrests of tens of thousands of people at the hands of the Turkish president for even minor connections to the group that carried out the coup, says The Economist. He has superseded the checks and balances in government and has arrested opposition leaders, one of whom is his main opponent in this upcoming election. 


The main opposition leader is Ekrem Imamoğlu, the recently re-elected mayor of Istanbul. Reuters reports that as a politician, Imamoğlu delivered services and development in Istanbul and implied that the same economic and social change can be applied to other cities in Türkiye like Ankara and Adana. Imamoğlu is a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), garnering vast support from Turkish people because of his ability to attract voters on both sides of the political aisle. The CHP credits themselves as “the Party that gained independence to the nation, founded the Republic,… [and pioneered the] mission … of Turkey’s democratization.” According to The Jakarta Post, Imamoğlu continues to garner support by being almost twenty years younger than Erdoğan while having the ability to, “appeal to both secularists and Islamic conservatives…[as he] is a practicing Muslim.” The duality of his ability to relate to different opposing sides has allowed a strong coalition of Turkish citizens to vote out Erdoğan, surely bringing forth a new era of Turkish government. 

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