Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has suggested he could be removed from office if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wins again in the upcoming elections, scheduled to take place in June 2023.
“They have done many things that would never enter our minds, that we wouldn’t believe or that we would say would never happen,” İmamoğlu said in an interview with the Financial Times. “A system with the mentality that it can cancel an election can do anything.”
Also touching upon the opposition's efforts to nominate a joint presidential candidate against Erdoğan, İmamoğlu said that choosing the right candidate is "very, very important."
İmamoğlu's municipality is facing an investigation by the Interior Ministry over allegations that hundreds of its employees have "links to terrorism." İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), slams the allegations as baseless and says the trial is politically motivated.
During the interview with the Financial Times, the Istanbul mayor also lamented that Turkey's business world is "still unable to show courage" and speak out against the government. “Unfortunately, the business world is culpable [for the economic situation]," he said.
“They [company executives] are frightened that they might face an investigation into their accounts, that they could be subject to unlawful trials or that they could face some other intervention,” he said.
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ever since his decisive victory in the Istanbul elections in 2019. Infuriated by losing Turkey's largest city to the main opposition, the AKP has been making İmamoğlu face investigations on bogus charges.
Despite these attempts, İmamoğlu's job approval rate has been increasing while the AKP's votes melt, according to various polls.