“Not just votes.” What did Erdogan’s statements reveal after his party’s loss in the elections?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a meeting with the leaders of his Justice and Development Party, during which he discussed the reasons for the “setback” they suffered three days ago in the municipal elections, in contrast to the situation witnessed by the secular Republican People’s Party.

According to information revealed by party sources to the Habertürk website on Wednesday, Erdogan considered that what happened “was not only a loss of votes, but also a loss in terms of blood and soul.”

The Turkish President added: “The greatest enemy of a political party born from the bosom of the nation is building walls between it and the citizens,” noting that “the pressure of inflation and its consequences were deeply felt on March 31,” while “the preventive measures were not sufficient.”

Erdogan also stated that many segments of society suffered, especially retirees, whose “complaints were heard in all provinces, regarding their loss of well-being.”

Erdogan also stated that “no one in his party’s administration, including himself, can evade responsibility for the results of the March 31 elections.”

He told the leaders of the Justice and Development Party that the loss of votes “cannot be reduced to one problem and one issue,” and that it is their duty to address any “negligence, error, intentions, or betrayals.”

Erdogan was also reported to have said: “So that he does not melt like ice when you see the sun and does not resemble the parties they criticize and does not pay a heavy price, the Justice and Development Party must see its mistakes, pull itself together, and strengthen the bridges of hearts with the nation again.”

Big setback

The Justice and Development Party’s votes dropped from 44.33 percent to 35.48 percent.

On the basis of this, the ruling party ranked second after being first, and suffered an electoral defeat for the first time during its rule, which lasted nearly 22 years.

In contrast, across Turkey, the Republican People’s Party received 37.8 percent of the votes, and the Justice and Development Party received 35.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the “Welfare Again” party, led by Fatih Erbakan, received 6.2 percent.

As for the Kurdish “Equality and Peoples’ Democracy” party, it received 5.7 percent, the “National Movement” received 5 percent, and the “Good” Party received 3.8 percent.

In numbers

Looking at the numbers and comparing the 2019 elections and the current elections in 2024, it becomes clear the extent of the loss suffered by the ruling coalition, which includes the “Justice and Development Party” and its ally, the “National Movement.”

Five years ago, the ruling party’s balance in the mayorship was limited to 39 municipalities, and today it has decreased to 24 (the negative difference is 15 municipalities).

While in 2019 the Republican People held the presidency of 21 municipalities, the number has now risen to 35 (a positive difference of 14), as shown by the results of counting 99 percent of the votes.

The opposition party also obtained a majority in the municipal council for both the municipalities of Ankara and Istanbul, and raised its score in the capital from 3 to 16 at the municipal level of major city districts.

On the other hand, Justice and Development declined from 19 to 8 out of 25 sub-municipalities.

The same is true in Istanbul, where the Republican People’s Republic increased its score from 14 to 26, while the Justice and Development Party dropped from 24 to 13 out of 39 sub-municipalities.

“Gaza has a role”

According to information provided by Habertürk journalist Esra Nehir, it was learned that the Turkish President touched on the issue of the Gaza Strip, and placed it as “one of the reasons” that led to the decline in votes.

He told his party leaders: “Unfortunately, we were not able to repel the political attacks and convince some segments regarding issues in which we did our best and paid a price for that, such as the Gaza issue.”

He added: “We will certainly make our assessments on these matters, whether they are positives or negatives.”

Erdogan was referring to the political campaign launched against him by the “Welfare Again” party led by Fatih Erbakan (his former ally in the May 2023 elections).

The campaign focused on the way the Turkish government dealt with the situation in Gaza, and the trade path with Israel.

One day before the elections, it reached the point where anyone who votes for the “Justice and Development Party” is considered “a supporter of Israel with weapons,” which was demonstrated by a video recording published by accounts close to Erbakan’s party on social media.

On the other hand, the Turkish President considered that “blaming the nation can only be the method of the helpless and ignorant.” He said at the conclusion of his speech: “We cannot allow anyone to waste 22 years of hard struggle.”

Erdogan had announced in a speech to his supporters on the night of the election loss that his ruling coalition had not achieved the desired results, but added that they would “hold themselves accountable and address the shortcomings.”

He considered, 3 days ago, that the elections are “not the end,” but rather a “turning point.”

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