Contributor Perspectives

Why Turkey's Opposition Shouldn't Underestimate Erdogan

Sinan Ciddi
Board of Contributors
Apr 5, 2019 | 17:15 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot during municipal elections in Istanbul on March 31, 2019.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan casts his ballot during municipal elections in Istanbul on March 31. Losses in key cities eroded Erdogan's power base.

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey's main opposition party and its electoral partner pulled off a stunning upset of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in local elections on March 31. Voters in Ankara, the capital, and Istanbul, Turkey's industrial and economic center, opted for candidates from the Republican People's Party (CHP) rather than support candidates from the party that has ruled them since 1994. CHP candidates also won in five other large cities, dealing a blow to Erdogan and the AKP on multiple fronts. Turkey's local elections have not been of international interest in the past, but Erdogan elevated the importance of this year's elections by pitching their outcomes as vital to "Turkey's survival and continuity." In doing so, he essentially asked voters whether they approved of him and his party. It was mistake. The next Turkish election is not until 2023. That's perhaps the best news...

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