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İmamoğlu’s election as chair of union of municipalities fuels crisis within AKP

İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu

The election of popular İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu as president of Turkey’s Union of Municipalities (TBB) has led to a crisis within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after it was determined that some AKP mayors backed his candidacy, the Odatv news website reported.

In the election on Monday, İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), received 515 votes, while his closest rival, Trabzon Mayor Ahmet Metin Genç of the AKP, received only 250.

A total of 868 delegates cast votes, including provincial mayors and mayors of districts with a population of more than 100,000. 

The number of votes İmamoğlu received showed that some AKP mayors also voted for him since there were only 448 CHP delegates taking part in the election, which attracted the anger of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to Odatv.

Erdoğan reportedly rebuked Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz, the AKP deputy chairperson responsible for the local administrations, and instructed him to determine which AKP mayors and delegates were among the 67 non-CHP voters for İmamoğlu.

Among those 67 voters, some could be from small opposition parties such as the İYİ Party or the New Welfare Party (YRP), but their number does not account for all the extra votes İmamoğlu received.

Erdoğan reportedly demanded Yılmaz’s resignation if he is unable to draw up the requested list.

İmamoğlu, who is seen as Erdoğan’s strongest political rival, was elected to his second term in the March 31 local elections, beating the AKP candidate by a large margin.

The results of the March 31 elections came as a shock to the AKP as it sustained its worst election defeat since its establishment in 2002. The CHP has emerged as the country’s leading party for the first time in decades, receiving 37.7 percent of the vote, while the AKP’s nationwide support stood at 35.4 percent.

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