Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu characterized his recent election victory as a warning from the people, in a recent interview with the French magazine L’Express.
“We hope that these results will—not just for Istanbul or Turkey—but for the entire world, be a warning to those who attempt to obstruct the will of the people,” Imamoğlu said, adding that his victory reflected the determination of Istanbul voters.
Imamoğlu won the March Istanbul election by a narrow margin, but the results were cancelled by Turkey’s election board, a decision believed to have been handed down by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Istanbul had been under the leadership of either Erdoğan or one of his political allies for over two decades until Imamoğlu, from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) defeated former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Following the cancellation of the March election, a new election was scheduled for June, and Imamoğlu won for a second time, though this time he increased his victory margin by hundreds of thousands of votes, in what was considered a major embarrassment for Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party. (AKP).
The elections dominated the political agenda for the first half of 2019 in Turkey, transforming Imamoğlu from a relatively-unknown district mayor to one of the country’s key political figures, with much speculation that he would be a challenger to Erdoğan in the 2023 presidential elections. However, in the interview with L’Express, Imamoğlu said that he does not see the president as his competition, and that he expressed a desire to work with the president, given Erdoğan himself was once the mayor of Istanbul.
“These words are still valid. It was due to this understanding that I requested an appointment to meet [with Erdoğan] immediately after being elected again,” Imamoğlu said.