Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s second-time mayor-elect from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) received the official mandate to be the mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) on Thursday, following the city’s rerun election on Sunday.
“I wish [the new term] to be beneficial for our city, our nation, our country. I am handing the mandate today [here] with a group dominated by women. This is a valuable message to emphasize gender equality in the public administration and [the importance of] women’s place in the society,” said Imamoglu during the mandate ceremony.
Imamoglu won the Istanbul mayoralty in the June 23 election rerun, this time by a greater margin following the public reaction to the annulment of the March 31 vote by the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK).
According to an initial unofficial announcement on Monday by the YSK chair, Sadi Guven, Imamoglu secured 54.21 percent of the vote against 44.99 percent of Binali Yildirim, the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In parallel with Imamoglu’s remarks during mandate ceremony, a woman, CHP’s Istanbul head Canan Kaftancioglu, was deemed the architect of the success in both the March 31 and the June 23 elections.
While Imamoglu was taking the mandate in Caglayan Courthouse, thousands of Istanbulites started gathering in front of the IBB headquarters in Sarachane Square to celebrate the handover ceremony.
The crowd waited for Imamoglu’s arrival despite hot and sunny weather, chanting “everything has become fine,” a new version of Imamoglu’s famous motto “everything is going to be fine” and “right, law, justice.”
The new mayor reached the IBB at around 18.00 pm and received the mayoral mandate from the Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya.
Later, Imamoglu addressed the thousands following the handover.
The CHP’s mayor highlighted that the city’s 16 million residents had displayed their commitment to democracy during the process. He thanked all political parties and their supporters for showing Turkey “still protects its democracy.”
Imamoglu sent a special thank to Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which did not nominate any candidate in both the March 31 and the June 23 polls in Istanbul to back him against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP. He, however, did not mention HDP’s jailed former leader Selahattin Demirtas.
“I promise to keep my shoulder to the wheel and to devote myself to Istanbul. The vote is over, now is the time to work,” Imamoglu vowed.
The mayor-elect asked for help from all Istanbulites in the new term, calling out “Are you ready to work with me?”
The mayor vowed to create an environment of “love, respect, and peace.” Referring to the IBB employees, he said nobody would be discriminated under his rule, he would not let, at the same time, any acts contrary to work ethics and labor law.
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“May God bless those who previously served for Istanbul’s good. We will eradicate the partisanship from this [IBB] building. Do not forget, now is the time for qualification and justice. We are coming to serve [all of] Istanbul, not for one man, or one party,” he argued.
Imamoglu promised to work hard to do good things which would make Istanbulites proud of him, adding that they are waiting for service.
“Please tell us when we are faulty. Do criticize us. On the other hand, please inform us if someone does something behind our back,” CHP’s mayor said.
Imamoglu ended his words by saying “We can pass over every obstacle with your love. I love you all too much. Everything has become fine.”
People who attended the handover celebration expressed their feelings and expectations for the new term.
A group dressed in Imamoglu t-shirts said that love and peace had won.