The Supreme Election Council (YSK) has annulled the results of the mayoral election in Istanbul due to electoral corruption, lost votes for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and a number of other unlawful deeds. Although Turkey's local elections were held on March 31 throughout the country, the municipal elections in Istanbul turned out to be the most significant and most controversial phase of the electoral competition. As the Republican People's Party's (CHP) candidate for the municipality of Ankara began his electoral campaign in a highly advantageous position, the AK Party's senior executives concentrated their energy on Ankara's elections and neglected the fierce competition in Istanbul to a great extent.
AK Party executives in Istanbul mainly focused on the post-electoral process because they took their electoral triumph for granted. Contrary to their self-confident expectations, the Nation Alliance already had the potential to take 43% of the votes, 37% from the main opposition CHP and 6% from the Good Party (İP). When the Nation Alliance was able to secure the electoral support of the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) constituency, which corresponded to another 5%, the CHP's municipal candidate found himself in an advantageous position.
Although the electoral constituency of the People's Alliance between the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) corresponded to 51% of all electors in Istanbul, we witnessed indecisiveness and discontent in their electoral behavior. Nonetheless, Istanbul's constituency supported both municipal candidates almost equally. As AK Party executives were unable to ensure the security of the ballot boxes, CHP executives used their opponent's passive stance to their advantage.
Regarding the upcoming redo elections, Istanbul's voters have the chance to re-evaluate the electoral profiles of both candidates.
The CHP's municipal candidate is a contractor who erected a number of buildings in his own district. Like many contractors, İmamoğlu participated in the ongoing competition of raising tower blocks in Istanbul.
Although he graduated from Istanbul University, he has no academic knowledge about Istanbul except the local experience he gained during his municipal governance in the district of Beylikdüzü. Avoiding the use of angled political expressions, İmamoğlu owes his political image to his electoral campaigners, who were aware of the risky self-confidence of the AK Party's executives in Istanbul.
When President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became mayor of Istanbul in 1994, Binali Yıldırım was serving in local governance as the general director of Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. (IDO).
During the first administration run by the AK Party, he became the minister of transport and infrastructure. Yıldırım succeeded in resolving the country's long-standing problems in transportation. The electoral support for the AK Party's governments, which corresponded to 50% of the votes, derived from the performance of two ministries, i.e. the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Health, during the terms of Recep Akdağ and Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, respectively.
As minister, Yıldırım completed the construction of modern roads, bridges and tunnels throughout the country. In a sense, Yıldırım constructed Turkey's infrastructure for the country's economic development and growth.
In addition to his achievements in highways, Yıldırım greatly contributed to the development of aviation. Turkish Airlines has become one the greatest airlines in the world.
Yıldırım has been known as a practical manager. The transition to electronic payment on bridges spanning the Bosporus was also one of his significant achievements in Istanbul.
As prime minister, Yıldırım addressed Turkish society in general and was thus supported by prudent voters from the urban middle classes.
During local elections, electors generally vote according to the profiles of municipal candidates, and thus support the candidate with a higher capacity in local governance.
Yet, we should take into consideration the rise of a new political dynamic during the latest phase of Turkish politics, i.e. populism.
Following the military intervention of Sept. 12, 1980, right-wing populism emerged. Now, left-wing populism has been on the rise, which influences the electoral processes despite its inability to solve social, political or economic problems.