Ekrem İmamoğlu on Winning Istanbul’s Mayoral Election

As Turkey’s President Erdoğan witnesses the opposition party win a re-run mayoral election in Istanbul, the city’s newly elected mayor explains why so many voters are turning away from an increasingly authoritarian leader.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Do you think even more people came out because they were angry that your first win was annulled?

IMAMOGLU (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Before March 31st, the first election we were presented with circumstances that gave us difficulties and promoting ourselves. Subsequent to March 31, perhaps all those difficulties, negativities — we’ve had the opportunity to reach everyone, every color, every political personality living in Istanbul, and tell them about our approach to democracy and our vision as a whole. Although we have not been able to level the conditions, we were able to raise our conditions a bit. In my opinion, the people of Istanbul were able to cast their vote more freely. I do not believe that it can be described solely as an angry reaction. It was way more than that, in my view what had an affect on Istanbul was their belief in democracy, and the continuity of democracy. The people of Istanbul demonstrated the legitimacy of the election, and the election was protected. No one will be able to interfere with elections to such an extent again.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Mayor, you keep talking about democracy and that is why so many people around the world are interested in this result. Even though you are the Mayor of Istanbul, democracy many would say is being compromised over the last many years — you have many journalists in jail, many civil servants in jail, many judges. Some are accused of partaking in the coup, but others are just being thrown in to jail because of opposition to the ruling Erdogan party. Can your victory change any of that? Can you bring back at least some democracy in to the — the public domain?

IMAMOGLU (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That was its biggest contribution, as well as our election this has turned in to a valuable test. At the same time the Istanbul election and the test of democracy serve to refresh the hopes of generation Z. I witness and feel that mostly in the youth — the illegal, unlawful, undemocratic period subsequent to March 31st, and the fact that it was corrected by the citizens — the people themselves in my view, is an exemplary one for the rest of the world. June 23rd was an important test and the result was a success.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with U.S. House Democrat Veronica Escobar about the situation at the Souther border. Ekrem İmamoğlu and Kori Schake join the program to discuss Turkey’s current political situation. Gita Gopinath joins Walter Isaacson to discuss the state of the global economy and her own personal journey growing up in India.