In Moment of Despair, Turkey’s Opposition Finds New Synergy and Unity

The decision for the rerun of Istanbul vote rattled Turkey. But it also reinvigorated the opposition, paving the way for the steady rise of a new leader — Ekrem Imamoglu.

Former Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu joined a family in Istanbul’s Sultanbeyli district for first iftar dinner of Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hours after Turkey’s election authority ruled for holding a new election in Istanbul, this has become the defining motto of Turkey’s fragmented but emboldened opposition.

It was a morale boost to reinvigorate the opposition dispirited by the annulment of opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu’s hard-won and deserved win in Istanbul in local elections. And the remarks came from the new (or former) mayor himself.

“Everything will be fine,” the mayor said, rejecting to allow himself to be overtaken by grief and despair. And he enabled a diverse set of people — celebrities, writers, journalists and people from all walks of life — to coalesce around a passionate cause to claim what was stolen from them — Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey and the major political battleground that could shape the country’s political future.

They joined the call from Imamoglu who urged people to speak without fear. Everybody, celebrities, artists and businessmen must speak as a patriotic duty. “If not now, when?” he asked when he denounced the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) “act of theft.”

The mood, as we can glean from social media, turned from resignation and despair to a newfound enthusiasm buoyed by a sense of righteousness and victimhood. For a while, the opposition part of Turkey has never been this loud or effective.

Artists were on the front line on social media, leading the emerging public resistance. “Everything will be fine” suddenly has become the symbol of new-age civil disobedience, expressed in peaceful and pacifist mode on social media. It espouses juxtaposition of diverse emotional and psychological elements, hope and firm belief. It also contains elements of determination, will and endurance.

IYI (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener whose support was vital in Imamoglu’s election described the YSK decision as a civil coup, an intervention to disregard public will in Istanbul.

The reaction from the outside world was indignant as well. EU’s Turkey Rapporteur Kati Piri expressed her disbelief.

Virginia-based journalist and writer. Politics, culture, art, and technology. American political affairs, Turkey, the MidEast, and beyond. Twitter: @abyasun

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