Ekrem Imamoglu who won Sunday’s high-stakes rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election has highlighted that the city’s 16 million residents displayed their commitment to democracy in Turkey.
According to state-owned Anadolu news agency (AA), Imamoglu who is the main opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s candidate secured 54.21 percent of votes, which is a far wider victory margin than his narrow annulled win on March 31.
Tens of thousands of Imamoglu supporters celebrated in the streets of Istanbul after the opposition candidate triumphed over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s handpicked candidate for the second time, by almost 800,000 votes.
In a televised speech at his party’s election coordination center in Istanbul’s Seyrantepe neighborhood after the release of initial results around 7.30 pm on Sunday, Imamoglu thanked Istanbulites for showing that Turkey still protects its democracy.
“I would also like to thank my thousands of friends [polling clerks] who performed their duties at the ballot boxes. They are today’s heroes of democracy,” he said.
Defining the election as a new and common page for all people of Istanbul, Imamoglu added that it will include justice, equality, love, and tolerance.
“The era of waste, arrogance, marginalization, and prejudice is over,” he stated.
Imamoglu labeled his victory as a “sacred duty” to fight Istanbul’s unemployment and poverty issues, to provide the city with green fields and to work for fast and cheap transportation that is of high quality.
“This is the most valuable and honorable duty of my life,” he added.
Wishing success to all members of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Assembly during the upcoming working period, he also promised: “I would also like to announce that we will actualize our promises at the first Assembly meeting.”
“Parties are no sacred structures,” Imamoglu argued. “Parties are not ends in themselves, but they are means of service. I want all our citizens to know this. Neither are the leaders sacred, nor [are] the parties.”
The newly-elected mayor said he will not run the city alone, but benefit from people of all factions, no matter what their political views are.
“Everyone who is hardworking, who has the right qualifications and love for his or her nation, can work with me. Being employed through references from party headquarters is over,” he vowed.
“People of Istanbul are tired of citizen-politician arguments and quarrels. They are waiting for service, production, and solutions,” Imamoglu emphasized.
Addressing President Erdogan, Imamoglu said he is ready and desirous to work in harmony with him after receiving his official mandate and coming into office again.
“I convey my wish and request to visit you in order to present to you our course of action and our views and to take your opinion. The importance of working in harmony concerning urgent matters of Istanbul, such as refugee issues, building faster metro lines, is obvious. I underline that Turkey needs this,” he said.
Imamoglu further vowed that if he faces any political works of obstruction, he will transparently share everything about it with Istanbul citizens.
The city’s newly-elected mayor ended his words with his famous motto, “everything is going to be fine.”
Following the speech, Imamoglu was sent off enthusiastically by his supporters from the electoral coordination center on his way to Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district, where he served as the mayor before the polls.
The crowd waved flags and chanted slogans as he left the center in a car in the company of his team.
Imamoglu held a massive rally in Beylikduzu to celebrate his victory and addressed tens of thousands of people who also chanted slogans and applauded during his speech.
“How happy for me that love has won [in Istanbul]! We have come to love one another… We have come to make peace, compromise and talk to one another,” he emphasized.
“Regardless of background or lifestyle, we have shown that love beats all, even prejudice,” the mayor argued.
“Now is the time for togetherness. We will build democracy in this city. We will build justice in this city. We will build the future here,” he added.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu tweeted: “We had said that everything was going to be all right and we were right; it did!” he stressed.
Following Imamoglu’s victory in renewed Istanbul municipal elections #HerŞeyÇokGüzelOldu (everything has been fine) became a trending topic on Twitter.
Meanwhile, in the capital Ankara, thousands also gathered in CHP headquarters where Kılıcdaroglu, joined by Metropolitan Mayor Mansur Yavaş who won the election on March 31, gave a speech.
“Being elected as Istanbul’s mayor in two consecutive polls is an exceptional honor. We don’t have any hurdles. We will embrace all. We will not be angry at anyone. We will respect all and every opinion. From now on CHP is the party of 82 million,” he promised.
Kılıcdaroglu said that the real winner of the June 23 re-run is “the Republic of Turkey and Mustafa Kemal who put up a fight to bring democracy to the country.”
“From now on we will raise the rule of law together. We will raise the bar of democracy together. We will protect Turkey together. From now on, those settled in the palace, who think they can exert influence on all will be respecting the will of the people,” he underlined.
Canan Kaftancioglu, CHP’s Istanbul provincial chairwoman, also tweeted: “As we sow, so shall we reap. We sowed hope despite oppression, we sowed smiles despite the fight. We sowed justice in this land which lacks justice, we sowed democracy. We won, we won a forest, thank you all.”
“#HakYeriniBuldu (the justice has been served) in Istanbul,” Yavas said in a tweet commenting on the results of the Istanbul mayoral re-run.
Izmir Mayor Tunc Soyer from CHP, who came to Istanbul to support Imamoglu, shared his photos while congratulating the newly-elected mayor on social media.
“We speak the same language as Mr. Ekrem. There is great hope. We will work hard so as not to allow any harm to be done to this hope,” he promised.