Istanbul’s main opposition mayoral candidate is leading the preferred candidate of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan according to the latest opinion polls.
Ekrem Imamoglu of the main secular Republican People’s Party is ahead by more than six percentage points ahead of his government-backed rival Binali Yildirim, the T24 news portal reported on Friday.
The Eurasia Public Opinion Research Centre (AKAM) conducted the opinion poll with 960 people between 17 and 20 June.
According to results of the poll, Imamoglu is leading the Istanbul mayoral election re-run with 6.7 points against Yildirim.
Kemal Ozkiraz, the coordinator of AKAM, announced the results on his Twitter account on Friday, indicating that Imamoglu received 53 percent, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s Yildirim gathered 46.3 of the votes.
Votes received by Turkey’s Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) and other candidates amount to the remaining 0.7 percent of the votes, the poll indicated.
Of those who did not cast votes on March 31 local elections, 1.8 percent would according to the poll vote for Imamoglu, the ousted mayor of Istanbul, in Sunday’s re-run.
AKAM poll further indicated that of supporters of the governing AKP who voted for Turkey’s former prime minister Yildirim in March polls, 2.5 percent would not be expected to go to the ballot box, while 1.1 percent would be expected to vote for Imamoglu.
Ozkiraz stated during a live stream on YouTube that voter turnout in the June 23 re-run was not expected to exceed the 83 percent of the March 23 election.
He added that the undecided respondents, who did not affect the results of the opinion poll, were mostly from districts that support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP.
CHP’s Imamoglu won a narrow victory against AKP’s Yildirim on March 31 local poll, gaining some 13,000 more votes than Yildirim.
The defeat was a huge blow for AKP and Erdogan, who started his political career in the 1990s as the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and business hub.
The Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey (YSK) canceled the results of the Istanbul mayoral poll due to appeals by the AKP, who cried foul, citing irregularities.
Imamoglu had to quit after less than three weeks in office.
Although his victory did not last long and he was ousted in May, the 49-year-old Imamoglu has emerged as a national sensation and figurehead for the Turkish opposition.
“Of course we have a different agenda item in this election and that is the democracy (for which) we are at a turning point,” he told Reuters this week.
“Our emphasis on the injustice and lawless intervention … will continue until the last minute.”
Prominent political figures in Turkey, especially Erdogan, have accused the ousted mayor of cooperating with Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara claims is a terrorist that is behind the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Kerrigan has also said Imamoglu allegedly insulted the governor of Ordu, a Black Sea coastal province, and vowed that if prosecuted over the issue, he could be barred from office even if he wins.
However, the annulment of his March victory, as well as the attacks on his character, have had the effect of raising his profile in Turkey and abroad.