The March 30 local elections in Turkey were not really local elections but a de facto referendum on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ability to govern the country. The outcome came as “a kiss of life” for Erdogan, whose legitimacy had been in a downward spiral since May 2013 when his authoritarian attitudes fanned the Gezi Park revolt. His legitimacy took a further blow with the massive corruption probe in December, which came coupled with a slew of wiretaps leaked on the Internet that exposed the government’s dirty affairs.
But despite those enormous setbacks, the popular support lost by Erdogan in the March 30 elections was less than expected. His party had garnered some 50% of the vote in the 2011 general elections. At the local polls, the party mustered 43.3% in the municipal assemblies’ vote — the only criteria that allows for a comparison — meaning that its popularity declined only by about six percentage points.