Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a man of arrogance and uncertain mental stability. He is ill-disposed to accepting embarrassing election losses.

Correspondingly, Erdoğan's AKP party is working with the ultra-nationalist MHP party to challenge the AKP's March 31 local election defeat in Istanbul. Seeing as Erdoğan is Istanbul's former mayor and the city is the heart of his political-theological plan to reshape Turkish society, this loss is hard to swallow. It reflects a damaging rebuke to Erdoğan's personal credibility. Indeed, the AKP's losing Istanbul is the rough equivalent of a Democratic presidential candidate losing California or a Republican losing Texas.

Fortunately, Erdoğan's plan to overturn Istanbul's democratic will isn't working. Because Turkey's Supreme Election Council is having none of it. Rejecting AKP efforts to have the votes repeatedly recounted until the opposition's victory is overturned, the council has cleared a path for the election result to hold. Pro-Erdoğan state media are trying to spin the result, but there's no hiding the reality: This is a big loss for a leader who doesn't like to lose.

What Erdoğan really fears here is what this result reflects: namely, Turkey's increasing movement away from the AKP and Erdoğan's failed rule. Yes, the AKP and MHP continue to maintain the most support, but the loss of Istanbul is a sign that change is on the way. And it's a crystallizing moment against a failed reign marked by economic decline, foreign policy chaos, and rampant brutality.

Erdoğan is right to be afraid. Unlike the man whose image adorns the Supreme Election Council's website, Kemal Atatürk, Erdoğan is no special leader. Those remaining institutions of a democratic Turkey that he has not been able to trammel are now standing up for the right of Turks to hold government to account. Erdoğan's is a government that has a lot of accounting to do.