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'Quake in the ballot box': Turkish media trumpets Imamoglu's victory

Outlets across the political spectrum celebrated the opposition candidate's win in Istanbul - even if some refrained from using his name in headlines
A man reads a daily after the Istanbul mayoral election re-run, at Karakoy in Istanbul, on 24 June (AFP)
By in
Istanbul

Across the board, Turkish media outlets were upbeat in their coverage of the results from Sunday's Istanbul election re-run with preliminary results showing opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu as the decisive winner.

“People’s Victory” declared the front page of Cumhuriyet, a staunchly secular daily. “The election results are a lesson taught by the people against coercions,” Cumhuriyet said in an editorial.

“This is a peaceful response by people to annulment of the March 31 election and lies and false accusations against Imamoglu.”

The leftist daily newspaper Evrensel said the election results were “a people’s slap” against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “People taught a democracy lesson in the election re-run engineered by a coup,” the daily wrote.

BirGun daily election day
'End of the road is seen,' leftist daily BirGun said on the front page, interpreting the results as a victory against injustice. (MEE screengrab)

Abdulkadir Selvi, a leading columnist at Hurriyet daily which has good sources within the AKP, said voters basically indicated that they now believe there is a political alternative. “Voters told [the] AKP that you have got until 2023 to tidy the house,” he said.

Karar daily, a socially liberal right-wing newspaper founded by disillusioned conservative intelligentsia, characterised Imamoglu’s victory as an “earthquake in the ballot box". The newspaper noted that Imamoglu had won traditionally conservative and AKP-leaning districts in the capital including Fatih, Uskudar and Eyup. It also underlined that Imamoglu increased his share of the vote significantly. In March, he won by a mere 13,000 votes. "This time the difference was 800,000 votes," according to the paper.

Yildiray Ogur, a well-known columnist at Karar daily, said the opposition, along with the media and business world, were encouraged by the results. “A politician from [the] AKP will be more courageous to make criticism in a party meeting. A columnist close to the government will be able to utter some critical thoughts. Judges and prosecutors will act with a degree of self-assurance while taking a decision. This is all thanks to these results,” he wrote.

However, covering the results, government-aligned newspaper headlines featured similar, if not the same wording, refusing to credit Imamoglu by name.

While popular daily Hurriyet preferred to use “Istanbul’s choice” as the headline, Star, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Aksam and Posta all had exactly the same titles: “Istanbul made its choice."

Sabah daily, the flagship government-aligned newspaper, described the election as “a victory for democracy” and shifted its usually aggressive language to a softer one.

Abdurrahman Dilipak from Islamist Yeni Akit daily, however, issued a warning to the government: “[The] AK Party emerged via municipalities and it will retire from the scene through municipalities. This is the last exit. They have to listen to these warnings, banish those trying to censor them."