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Erdogan suffers major setbacks in local elections in Turkey's big cities

Erdogan suffers major setbacks in local elections in Turkey's big cities

Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara on the results of Sunday's local elections, High Election Board Chairman Sadi Guven said CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu is leading with 4,159,650 votes over AK Party's Binali Yildirim with 4,131,761.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AKP faced a major upset on Monday after local election results showed the ruling party had lost the capital Ankara and the country's economic hub Istanbul after a decade and half in power.

In Istanbul, the main opposition candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, said in the early hours of Monday that he had won by almost 28,000 votes over the AKP candidate and former prime minister, Binali Yıldırım.

But in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and economic hub, the race for mayor was deadlocked with the AKP candidate claiming victory with 48.70 percent of votes, but his opponent on 48.65 percent also claimed he had won, after nearly all ballot boxes were counted.

Across the country, the President's AKP party, in alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), held 51.8 percent of the overall vote, while the opposition alliance took 37.6 percent, according to preliminary results reported by Anadolu.

With 90 percent of ballots counted, secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Mansur Yavas had 50.3 percent of the vote, 2.8 percentage points ahead of his AK Party rival.

"I think that the most powerful and effective opposition parties are not the classical parties, like the Republican People's Party or the Good party".

The opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) had boycotted the elections in several cities, dubbing the vote unfair.

Erdogan, who is aware of his potential weakness and was previously the mayor of Istanbul, has campaigned across Turkey every day though he is not on the ballot.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory, but the AKP said it would appeal in districts across the city and expected to shift the outcome in its favor. He framed the local elections as an issue of "national survival" and blamed the country's weak economy on Turkey's enemies.

Ruling party candidate Binali Yildirim formerly a prime minister and transport minister for Turkey
Akin Celiktas DHA via APRuling party candidate Binali Yildirim formerly a prime minister and transport minister for Turkey

Reacting to the release of early results, President Erdogan said his party was leading by far across Turkey and that losing some cities was "the necessity of democracies".

Years of economic prosperity provided Erdogan and his party with previous election victories.

Mr Imamoglu, a relative unknown until he was selected to run for Istanbul against his heavyweight opponent, made a dozen appearances throughout the night as the state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of election data, stopped updating the Istanbul count shortly after Mr Yildirim declared victory at 11.30pm on Sunday.

Two major losses: Erdogan's party appears to have lost mayoral races in the capital, Ankara, and in Erdogan's native Istanbul.

The AKP built its ballot box success on Erdogan's perceived economic prowess, but before the vote, the Turkish lira was sliding again, provoking memories of a 2018 crisis that saw the currency fall 30 per cent and badly hurt Turkish households.

He commended the Turkish public for the high turnout rate of 84 percent and called it a "sign of healthy democratic interest and awareness".

"Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party", he said.

The AKP plans to contest "voting irregularities" in Ankara, Istanbul and Igdir, where the pro-Kurdish HDP beat the AKP and two nationalist parties, according to Daily Sabah.

The blow for the strongman president comes after Turkey went into recession late previous year.

While Erdogan was not running, he was the face of AKP's campaign and held rallies across Turkey for weeks.




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