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Smart Take | Erdogan Suffers Historic Loss to Opposition in Turkey’s Local Elections

April 2, 20242:08

Millions voted in local elections this week, resulting in a resounding defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing Justice and Development Party.  The opposition, Republican People’s Party (CHP), won mayoral victories in Turkey’s five largest cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, and Antalya. Wilson Center Middle East Program Coordinator Yusuf Can comments on the significance of the CHP win. He talks about why Erdogan’s Party suffered so many losses, why these elections were historic for women in particular, and what this win will mean for the morale of the opposition party and the everyday voter.

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    The opposition party won so many new, state cities and districts across Turkey, even in very remote areas of the country, that were quite unexpected results.

    For example, Adiyaman or Kutahya, these cities were traditionally more conservative and right wing cities. but with the right candidates, as well as the appropriate voter turnout, the opposition party basically swept the majority of cities and also, districts,

    There are several reasons why did we see these outcomes in getting to the March 31st local elections in Turkey. One is the economy. It's not getting any better and it is getting worse, actually. And the government with its economic policies is kind of taking out on middle and lower class people. So that's hurting Erdogan's popularity.

    Also, one of the main reasons why they lost is this voter turnout.

    It seems this isn't applicable to every district in Turkey, but one key factor was the fact that the turnout helped the opposition because AKP voters did not essentially, many of them did not go to the polls. They were either protesting or weren't as excited about the candidates that either one put out.

    More than ever, women have more of a say in Turkish politics in this election, including at the local level and city levels and district level. 11 mayors are now women.

    Mayors are elected in Turkey, which is the first time it's happening  in our country's political history. This will actually boost the opposition's morale and motivation to, take over Erdogan in the few years. It will also boost the motivation and energy of the voter, especially the opposition voter.

    The people who don't like Erdogan but felt like they were, you know, they were never going to win. They were never going to solve any issues through politics or policymaking.


Yusuf Can

Yusuf Can

Program Coordinator
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Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform US foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more