Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday suffered a stinging defeat on many different levels.

Firstly, the victory of Ekrem Imamoglu in the Istanbul mayoral race is for the Turkish president a political defeat.

Secondly, it is a personal defeat because Erdogan himself disputed the result of the initial election in March and used his power to force a repeat election. It is a personal defeat because he to a large degree shouldered the burden of the electoral campaign of his favoured candidate, former PM Binali Yildirim.

Thirdly, Imamoglu won by a larger margin than last time, so it served as a denunciation of Erdogan personally.
In regular democracies, the defeated accept the results, draw their lessons, and congratulate the winner.

Turkey, however, is not a regular democracy and that raises a basic question.

What impact will yesterday’s electoral result have on the Turkish president?

Will he get the message sent by voters or will it make him more nervous and unpredictable?

Will he try to win back the voters that he lost with legitimate democratic means or will he resort to illegitimate methods such as abuse of power and a show of force both domestically and abroad?

One may hope that democratic Turkey will offer its own answers, yet one must simultaneously prepare for the worst.