Istanbul Re-Vote Tests Turkish President’s Grip on Power

Voters in Istanbul on Sunday go to the polls to elect a new mayor for a second time after the results of the first round of mayoral elections on March 31 were cancelled when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's coalition complained of irregularities following its major defeat in them.

The decision of the Turkish Supreme Election Council, YSK, to order a re-run was widely deemed controversial and as a political favour to Erdogan's ruling coalition - and has become the main topic of the election campaign.

Most experts say that, in its reasoning for its decision, the YSK failed to produce any evidence of systematic election fraud, as the ruling party had claimed.

They say the elections will be an important test of democracy in Turkey and of faith in President Erdogan's 17-year-long rule over the country.

In a political environment in which many voters feel betrayed because the ruling elite has refused to accept their decision about who should be the new mayor, the ruling coalition's joint candidate, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, has seen a drop in support.

Most polls put the opposition parties' joint candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, from the Republican People's Party, CHP, significantly ahead of his rival.

Imamoglu won the first election on March 31 after gaining 13,000 votes more than his Erdogan-backed rival, but now his margin is much higher, according to most polls.

One recent poll released by KONDA Research Company on June 19 gave Imamoglu the support of 54 per cent of voters, well ahead of his opponent, Yildirim, on 45 per cent.

According to KONDA, the margin has become much higher than in the previous election because many voters who did not turn out on March 31, and other undecided voters, were now backing...

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