Istanbul mayoral elections: Odds favor incumbent İmamoğlu on betting sites

Although polls suggest a tight race in the Istanbul mayoral elections, betting sites indicate a likelihood of incumbent Ekrem İmamoğlu securing victory.

Duvar English

Ahead of Turkey’s local elections scheduled for March 31, betting sites indicate favorable odds for Istanbul’s incumbent Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu over the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate, Murat Kurum.

As of March 30, Manifold Markets suggests that AKP’s former transport minister has a 41% chance of taking Istanbul in the 2024 local elections.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been eager to reclaim the country’s largest city after opposition candidate İmamoğlu won the metropolis twice in 2019, following a landslide victory by the Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s contender in a contested rerun.

While one user on Manifold Markets believes that the AKP remains severely undervalued, the odds for an AKP takeover appear slim, according to betting site Polymarket, indicating İmamoğlu’s CHP has a 76% chance of winning over the AKP as of March 30.

While the incumbent seems to have an edge over Kurum, İmamoğlu faces an uphill struggle in a contest marred by an uneven playing field, with Turkey’s media giving substantially more coverage to Kurum.

Additionally, the electoral alliance that propelled İmamoğlu to Istanbul’s helm dissolved after the May 2024 elections, which saw Erdoğan re-elected president for the third time.

Yet, İmamoğlu seems to have accrued significant political capital during his tenure.

In the latest poll by Ankara-based Metropoll, the sitting mayor garners around 39.2% of the vote, while Kurum trails behind with 30.4% and 18.2% of voters remain undecided

However, the race likely remains too close to call, as Turkish polls have previously been notoriously inaccurate.

(English version by Wouter Massink)