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04-07-2019 11:43 | Read 168 times

İmamoğlu's 'star power' could be challenged for presidency

İSTANBUL'S new mayor now shoulders the expectations of Turkey's opposition after he emerged from obscurity to deal President Tayyip Erdogan the biggest election blow of his career.

İmamoğlu's 'star power' could be challenged for presidency

Ekrem İmamoğlu of the Republican People's Party (CHP) secured 54.1 per cent of votes to win a decisive victory on Sunday, his second in three months after authorities annulled an earlier vote. His first task is to take the reins from Mr Erdoğan's AK Party which, along with its Islamist predecessor parties, has run the city for 25 years.

But after winning over some AKP voters and increasing his initial razor-thin victory margin 60-fold, Mr İmamoğlu's back-to-back victories have led to talk that he could use İstanbul as a platform to challenge for Turkey's presidency.

Mr Erdoğan himself served as mayor of Turkey's largest city before launching on to the national stage to become the country's dominant political leader.

The months-long controversy over the re-run municipal election has already earned Mr İmamoğlu recognition well beyond İstanbul. He ran an inclusive campaign and as a practicising Muslim representing a traditionally secularist party, he has also blurred the sharp dividing lines of Turkey's polarised politics.

Mr İmamoğlu, 49, has dismissed rumours that his victory could prompt a presidential bid, saying he is focused on the five-year mayoral term ahead of him. Officials from the CHP have also said such an issue was not on their agenda.

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