Türkiye votes in crucial municipal elections

Today, Sunday, Turkey will go into nationwide municipal elections that focus on the efforts of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to regain control of Istanbul from his main rival, Ekrem Imamoglu, who aims to strengthen the opposition once again as a political force after bitter defeats in the elections last year.

Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu dealt his ruling Justice and Development Party the biggest electoral blow in its two decades in power by winning the 2019 elections. President Erdogan responded in 2023 by securing re-election as president and winning a parliamentary majority with his nationalist allies.

Sunday’s elections could now consolidate the AKP’s control over NATO member Turkey, or signal a change in the divided political landscape in the country with an important emerging economy. Imamoglu’s victory is seen as fueling expectations that he will become a national leader in the future.

Voting centers open their doors at seven in the morning (0400 GMT) in eastern Turkey, while voting in other places begins at eight in the morning and ends at five in the evening. Preliminary results are expected to be released by 10 pm (1900 GMT).

Opinion polls indicate a close electoral race in Istanbul, a city with a population of 16 million that leads the Turkish economy, where Imamoglu faces a challenge from the Justice and Development Party candidate and former minister Murat Kurum.

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