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Political Islamists brace to lose financial favors after Istanbul shift

After major gains in local elections last month, including a landmark victory in Istanbul, Turkey’s main opposition vows to turn off the funding spigots for Islamic entities, which have long underpinned the ruling party’s electoral machine.
Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), accompanied by his family members, greets his supporters during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC1B1DC65EA0
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The main opposition’s election victory in Istanbul — Turkey’s biggest city and economic hub — has set the stage for major changes in how the city’s budget is spent. Since his razor-thin victory in the March 31 polls, the new mayor — Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose victory is still being challenged by the election board — has vowed that the era of “serving [certain] individuals, associations, foundations and communities is over.”

Imamoglu’s remarks seemed to single out not only the business cronies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but also groups espousing political Islam. Such groups have significantly expanded their financial and social clout under the AKP.

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