Erdogan’s AKP Loses Turkey’s Capital Ankara to Opposition in Key Local Elections

Erdogan’s AKP Loses Turkey’s Capital Ankara to Opposition in Key Local Elections

The win is the first for the opposition CHP party in Turkey’s capital in 25 years.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s ruling party AKP has lost the mayor’s seat in Turkey’s capital Ankara to an opposition candidate in a very narrow race during Sunday’s crucial local elections.

Mansur Yavas from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and IYI (Good) Party became the new Mayor of Ankara with 49.75% of the votes, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Mehmet Özhaseki, the candidate of the People’s Alliance, between the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), received nearly 47.76% of the votes.

The opposition win in Ankara marks the first time in 25 years that the CHP has won the mayoral seat in Turkey’s capital, which has been ruled since 1994 by AKP and its de facto predecessor, the former Welfare Party.

Ankara’s newly elected Mayor Mansur Yavas ran for the seat twice before, in 2009 and 2014, and is a former mayor of one of the city’s districts.

Yavas, however, is facing allegations of misconduct back when he worked as a layer a decade ago, with an Ankara prosecutor preparing to indict him on fraud and forgery charges several weeks before the local elections.

Yavas, however, says the allegations against him came up only after the ruling AKP party became worried it might lose the seat of Ankara’s Mayor to him.

“We will not hand Ankara over to a random person, to someone who forged signatures on checks. We want Ankara to continue to be governed by good people,” Turkish President Erdogan said on March 20, casting doubts on whether Yavas might be able to serve as Ankara’s Mayor if he gets convicted.

In Sunday’s local elections, Turkey’s ruling party won 18 out of Ankara’s 25 districts, down from 21 it won back 2014.

In addition to Ankara, the elections in Turkey’s other largest cities such Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Antalya, and Adana have been closely watched, with local polls seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s policies as President.

“[The AKP has won the municipal elections] by a majority just like when our party came to power on Nov. 3, 2002,” Erdogan said in his comments on the election results Sunday night.

“We, as the AKP, have come out of this election as the leading party by a majority. In terms of alliances also, we, together with the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP], have also come first,” he added.

With the votes of 75% of the ballot boxes counted, Erdogan’s ruling party AKP won about 46% of the ballots cast in Sunday’s local elections, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won 30.05%.

(Banner image: Mansur Yavas on Twitter)

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