A Challenging Path Ahead For Istanbul’s New Mayor

In his first days as mayor of Turkey’s largest city, Ekrem Imamoglu chaired a hostile city council, faced disobedience from AK Party holdovers and found a predator media against him.

Abdullah Ayasun

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After more than two weeks of political wrangling, Ekrem Imamoglu last week received his official mandate to govern Turkey’s largest city, ending the 25-year rule of the city by mayors from Islamist-originated parties. This came after people grew disgruntled by the endless vote recount and political shenanigans of the ruling party amid a government push for a renewal of the election. For Imamoglu, getting mandate became as challenging and excruciating as winning the election itself.

His challenges, however, far from over. He started the week by chairing a city council meeting on Monday. Some AK Party members failed to mask their contempt of the new mayor, while the party had already displayed an eagerness to embroil in turf wars over the affairs of the council.

Separately, as the new mayor is presiding over a transition period in the metropolitan municipality, some holdovers from the ruling AK Party era appear to be in rebellion on social media. Some workers even went far to insult the new mayor on social media, only to withdraw their inflammatory tweets in a bid to avoid disciplinary action and even possible sacking.

The path to glory, for the new mayor, will not be without challenges, if the post-election period indicated anything.

Imamoglu’s Path to Victory: Weeks of Political Drama and Fuss

Following tremendous setbacks of the recent years, the faith in the elections, the last vestige of a fraying democracy, was in short supply before March 31. The elections since 2015 were neither free nor fair. Despite all the gloom and doom, the March 31 elections revived hopes in the Turkish voters’ deep-seated commitment to the mechanism of democracy, leading to many commentators at home and abroad that there is still hope in Turkey. The country, many contended, was not a dictatorship, at least not yet.

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun