Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem İmamoğlu said to Financial Times in an interview that he could be removed from office if Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wins again in the coming elections, just as dozens of elected mayors have been removed from their posts in Kurdish-majority provinces of Turkey.
“They have done many things that would never enter our minds, that we wouldn’t believe or that we would say would never happen. A system with the mentality that it can cancel an election can do anything,” İmamoğlu said.
The local elections in Istanbul in March 2019 was cancelled without any grounds when İmamoğlu came out as the winner. He won again in the election held in June, this time by a greater margin of almost 10 percentage points.
İmamoğlu faces a court case for allegedly insulting members of the Supreme Election Council. The prosecutor wamts him to be punished by a prison sentence of four years and one month, and banned from political activities.
‘End of the road’ for the economy
He also told the Financial Times that the Turkish economy was reaching ‘the end of the road’ as the country suffered from ‘the most important economic crisis in Turkey’s history’, with inflation running at more than 70% and poverty soaring.
He added that despite this depressing situation, company leaders were failing to speak out.
“I watch with sadness as the business world is still unable to show courage. Unfortunately, the business world is culpable.”
He still voiced sympathy for company executives who have most of the time been silent, acknowledging that many feared retribution for their criticism of the administration.
“They are frightened that they might face an investigation into their accounts, that they could be subject to unlawful trials or that they could face some other intervention,” he said.
He went on to say that Erdoğan would suffer a ‘huge defeat’ at the hands of the electorate if he lost and sought to rerun the vote, as he had in Istanbul.
“It is the 86 million people in this country who give the election result to the person who deserves it,” he added. “No one can obstruct this; Erdoğan included.”