“If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opined a couple of years ago over the political fortunes of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
On June 23, Erdogan and his party suffered a historic debacle in the rerun of the mayoral race in Istanbul. Binali Yildirim, an AKP heavyweight who ran as the candidate of the People’s Alliance between the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was outstripped by 806,000 votes by Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Imamoglu, who ran as the candidate of the Nation Alliance between the CHP and the right-wing Good Party, clinched 54.21% of the vote, boosted by decisive backing from the base of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party. Yildirim trailed behind with 45%, a share that signifies a big loss of votes for Erdogan and the AKP in Turkey’s biggest city.