Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, has long been seen as the single man most likely to unseat the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in elections that are due to be held by the summer of 2023. However, a public relations faux pas and his flippancy in its aftermath have bruised Imamoglu’s presidential aspirations, leaving Erdogan and his supporters gleeful.
The controversy erupted last week during a tour of his native Black Sea region. The trip was supposedly to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan. But few doubted Imamoglu’s true intentions, though he denied them: The coastal lap was the opening shot of his undeclared campaign to become the opposition candidate for the presidency. Thousands thronged to his rallies, with many people coming up to Imamoglu exhorting him to run against Erdogan.