People in Istanbul walk past posters of AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim (left) and CHP Party candidate Ekrem Imamoglu on June 1 as campaigning was under way for a re-run of the city’s mayoral election. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images )

Istanbul Mayoral Rivals to Face-off in Turkey’s First TV Debate in Decades

Ekrem Imamoglu, the Istanbul mayoral candidate of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Binali Yildirim, candidate of the ruling AK Party, will take part in the first televised debate in Turkey in nearly two decades on June 16. In a shocking blow to President and AKP head Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Imamoglu initially won a narrow victory over Yildirim by 13,000 ballots in the March 31 mayoral vote, one of a series of local elections taking place throughout the country. However, weeks of appeals by the AKP led Turkey’s election board last month to annul the vote over irregularities and set a re-run for June 23. The AKP also lost political control of the capital Ankara during the local voting, and the losses of two of Turkey’s largest cities reportedly has led to infighting within Erdogan’s party. Turkey is currently reeling from an economy plagued by a currency crisis that has led to high inflation and unemployment rates, an issue that was a major focal point for Erdogan’s AKP during the local election campaigns.

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