It's a rarity for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Bad news at the voting booth, results that could signal real trouble for his reign after 15 years. These were local elections, not national, and Erdogan himself wasn't running. The results, however, are seen as a direct reflection on him, given that he had been campaigning furiously for candidates in his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Details:
- Two major losses: Erdogan's party appears to have lost mayoral races in the capital, Ankara, and in Erdogan's native Istanbul. Reuters describes the loss of control in these cities, particularly the power hub of Ankara, as "stunning." The AKP, however, plans to challenge the Ankara loss to the Republican People's Party (CHP).
- For context: Erdogan first came to power with his own election as mayor of Istanbul in 1994. Journalist Rusen Cakir sees things coming full circle: "The election today is as historic as the local election in 1994," he wrote. "It’s the announcement of a page that was opened 25 years ago and is now being closed."
- Big reasons: Turkey's economy went into a recession in March, and that was the top concern of voters, reports the New York Times. Probably not helping: Even though Turkey is a democracy, Erdogan has assumed broad new powers and become "increasingly autocratic," notes CNN. That shift sped up after a botched coup in 2016. The next national election is set for 2023.
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