2019 Istanbul mayoral election

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2019 Istanbul mayoral election

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  First party Second party
  Ekrem İmamoğlu (cropped).jpg Portrait of Binali Yıldırım (cropped).jpg
Candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu Binali Yıldırım
Party CHP AK Party
Alliance Nation Alliance People's Alliance
Popular vote 4,169,765 4,156,036
Percentage 48.77% 48.61%

Istanbul Local Elections 2019.png
2019 mayoral election results in Istanbul Province by district.

Mayor before election

Mevlüt Uysal
AK Party

Elected Mayor

Ekrem İmamoğlu

2019 Istanbul mayoral election ballot

The 2019 Istanbul mayoral election took place on 31 March 2019, as part of the 2019 Turkish local elections. In addition to a mayor for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, all 39 Istanbul districts elected their own individual mayors as well as district councillors.

Initial results on election night showed that People's Alliance candidate Binali Yıldırım held a small lead over his Nation Alliance rival Ekrem İmamoğlu. However, as the lead narrowed and a blackout occurred over the reporting of new results, İmamoğlu overtook Yıldırım according to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) on noon on 1 April. Both candidates had initially declared victory, with banners showing Yıldırım's image and the message 'thank you Istanbul' appearing in numerous places overnight.[1]

Yıldırım and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced that they would contest the results, citing electoral irregularities and a series of enumerating errors when recording results. AKP complaints for a complete recount of all votes were accepted by the electoral authorities in 5 of Istanbul's 39 districts, with the remaining 34 districts being approved for a recount of invalid and blank votes only. The recount process ended on 16 April, 16 days after the election, with results showing İmamoğlu still in the lead by around 14,000 votes, down from the 23,000 lead he had after the initial count.

The AKP subsequently submitted an extraordinary complaint to annul and repeat the election. The party's officials cited a claim that voters had been illegally registered to vote in the district of Büyükçekmece, where police subsequently began an operation to locate fraudulent voters. A number of ballot box officials and civil servants were taken into custody. A number of pro-government media outlets also accused the FETÖ terrorist organisation of interfering in the results, but without any proof.[2]

Following the conclusion of a full recount in Maltepe on 16 April, İmamoğlu was summoned by the electoral authorities to formally receive his certificate of election.[3] However, his mayoralty is still at risk of being cut short due to the AKP's ongoing request for the election to be annulled.


The nominee of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is Binali Yıldırım, a former Prime Minister of Turkey and the incumbent Speaker of the Grand National Assembly.[4] As part of the People's Alliance, the AKP's candidate will have the unconditional support of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).[5]

On 18 December 2018, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) announced their candidate to be the serving Mayor of the district of Beylikdüzü, Ekrem İmamoğlu.[6] İmamoğlu is likely to have support from the İYİ Party, which itself is unlikely to put up its own candidate.[7]

Election day[edit]

After an initial substantive lead for Binali Yıldırım had shrunk, close to midnight, to a mere 48.71 percent, compared to the 48.65 of his opponent, Yıldırım proclaimed victory, while the state-run Anadolu Agency, which provided the television stations with the results as the counts came in, ceased updating the results for Istanbul entirely.[8]

In the early hours of 1 April, where Anadolu Agency results showed Yıldırım in the lead by just 3,500 votes, Binali Yıldırım made a short speech declaring victory. A few hours later, with no update on the results, the AKP's Istanbul provincial chairman declared that they had won by around 3,000 votes. Ekrem İmamoğlu refuted the AKP's victory claims and criticised the AA for not updating the results count. He revealed that the CHP's records showed him in the lead by 29,000 votes and demanded the AA to update their results accordingly. The agency claimed that it had stopped receiving data from the field. Only the next afternoon were new results provided, showing a narrow lead for Ekrem İmamoğlu. The YSK confirmed İmamoğlu's lead in the afternoon of 1 April.


An AKP banner proclaiming victory in Istanbul.

Indicative results, with 100% of the votes counted, suggest that the opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won a narrow victory over the governing People's Alliance candidate Binali Yıldırım.

After the provisional results became public, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), who nominated Yıldırım, announced their intention to contest the results, stating that recounting the substantial number of invalid and blank votes could change the result. On 2 April 2019, the last possible day to file challenges, the AKP submitted complaints of alleged irregularities in all 39 districts.[9] In response, the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey ordered recounts in 18 of the 39 districts.[10] The next day, Thursday 4 April, Istanbul's provincial election board overruled the decisions of the district election boards of the other districts not to hold a recount, and ordered recounts of all votes deemed invalid.[11]

On Friday 5 April, it was reported that the AKP Istanbul applied to the Istanbul provincial election board for a total recount of all votes.[12]

Speaking on Monday 8 April, President Erdoğan declared that the AKP had detected "organized crime" carried out during the election for Istanbul mayor and that the party had applied to the Supreme Election Council to annul the election, adding that "no one has the right to declare themselves victorious with a difference of around 13,000–14,000 votes".[13] This while the AKP, on the day after the election, had hung tens of thousands of victory banners all over the city. The next day the AKP deputy chair confirmed that the AKP will apply to the Supreme Election Council for a new election in Istanbul.[14]

On 17 April 2019, the Istanbul Electoral Council rejected a demand by the AKP to postpone its official determination until after the Supreme Election Council gave its ruling on the requested annulment, and declared Ekrem Imamoğlu to be the new mayor of Istanbul.[15]


The AKP claimed that around 11,000 voters had illegally transferred their residency to the district of Büyükçekmece in order to vote in the Istanbul elections. Police subsequently began an operation in the district, taking the civil servant responsible into custody and raiding homes of alleged fraudulent voters. Their actions were widely condemned due to the lack of solid proof of any wrongdoing, with some residents accusing the police of demanding them to reveal who they voted for.[16] The AKP referred the basis of their claims to their own party-held records, where they claimed they could identify voters' political preference 'by their surnames', causing further controversy.[17]


The results, certified on 17 April 2019 by the Istanbul Electoral Council following the conclusion of all recounts, are shown below.

2019 Turkish local elections: Istanbul
Party Candidate Votes % ±
CHP Ekrem İmamoğlu 4,169,765 48.8 Increase 8.7
AK Party Binali Yıldırım 4,156,036 48.6 Increase 0.7
Felicity Necdet Gökçınar 103,364 1.2 Decrease 0.2
DSP Muammer Aydın 30,884 0.4 Increase 0.3
BTP Selim Kotil 27,087 0.3 Increase 0.2
Democrat Ersan Gökgöz 22,268 0.3 Increase 0.2
Patriotic Mustafa İlker Yücel 15,428 0.2 Steady 0.0
Independent All independents 14,657 0.2 Increase 0.2
TKP Zehra Güner Karaoğlu 10,349 0.1 Steady 0.0
Total valid votes 8,549,838 96.4 -
Rejected ballots 315,248 3.6 -
Turnout 8,865,086 83.9 Decrease 5.5
CHP gain from AK Party Swing Increase 8.0
Registered electors 10,570,939


  1. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47785095
  2. ^ https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2019/gundem/istanbul-il-secim-kurulu-baskani-gurdaldan-feto-aciklamasi-4284223/
  3. ^ https://www.haberler.com/son-dakika-chp-li-kaynaklara-gore-ekrem-imamoglu-11960260-haberi/
  4. ^ "Erdoğan names former PM Yıldırım as AK Party's candidate for Istanbul mayor in Turkish elections". Daily Sabah. 29 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  5. ^ "AKP'ye koşulsuz destek! - Cumhuriyet Siyaset Haberleri". cumhuriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  6. ^ "CHP Ankara ve İstanbul Adaylarına Karar Verdi". amerikaninsesi.com. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Son dakika: CHP ve İYİ Parti arasında ittifak anlaşmasına varıldı... İşte CHP ve İYİ partinin uzlaştığı iller - Son Dakika Haberler". hurriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  8. ^ "State broadcaster stops reporting results as opposition candidate closes gap in Istanbul". Ahval. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  9. ^ "AKP challenges election results in Istanbul". Hürriyet Daily News. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Recounts in progress in 19 Istanbul districts". Hürriyet Daily News. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  11. ^ "All invalid votes in Istanbul to be recounted, provincial election board rules". Daily Sabah. 4 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  12. ^ "AK Party seeks total recount of votes in Istanbul". Daily Sabah. 5 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Irregularities in Istanbul vote results: Erdoğan". Hürriyet Daily News. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  14. ^ "AKP to seek new election in Istanbul". Hürriyet Daily News. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  15. ^ Turkish opposition candidate declared Istanbul mayor. Al Jazeera, 2019-04-17
  16. ^ https://odatv.com/polis-vatandasin-evine-gidip-bakin-ne-soruyor-10041945.html
  17. ^ https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2019/gundem/soyisminden-parti-analizi-4383854/