Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Turkish opposition candidate in the June 23 Istanbul mayoral election rerun, is ahead and could well extend his lead by polling day, the head of top Turkish pollster Konda said in an interview with Turkish independent outlet Medyascope TV on Monday.
Konda chief Bekir Ağırdır discussed his views on the upcoming Istanbul rerun a day after main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate İmamoğlu met his rival from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Binali Yıldırım, for the first televised electoral debate held in Turkey since 2002.
Neither candidate lived up to expectations in what had been a hotly anticipated debate. However, Ağırdır said, the AKP had already lost the rerun before it began by pushing for the cancellation of İmamoğlu’s victory in the initial vote on March 31.
“Even though there were legal justifications, everyone knew they (the AKP) had ruled people’s decision void through political pressure”, Ağırdır said.
It was the AKP’s appeal, citing serious irregularities, that led Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council to cancel the first vote on May 6. The controversial decision was passed by seven votes to four, with the council’s chair, Said Güven, casting a dissenting vote.
“It is impossible for (the decision) not to have affected society’s conscience and sense of justice. Even from that moment, the AKP had lost”, said Ağırdrır, adding that there was a great possibility that İmamoğlu would widen the lead recent polls have shown him as holding.
The Konda chief went on to say the AKP had become “paralyzed” as the party nears its 18th year in power, as a result of losing the grassroots political networks that had made it so successful.
“Now in place of that organization is one that works in its own interests or bows to the commands of the reis”, Ağırdır said, using a Turkish word meaning chief that is commonly used to refer to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by his supporters.
The Konda chief added that the ruling party had also lost votes on ideological grounds, as conservative voters were disappointed by what he called the AKP’s “wasted opportunities” and the chaotic situation their rule had brought the country to.