Opposition Ahead in Turkey’s Istanbul Mayor Race as Erdogan Suffers Blow in Big Cities

Opposition Ahead in Turkey’s Istanbul Mayor Race as Erdogan Suffers Blow in Big Cities

The main opposition party has won major cities on Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coast.

The mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul in the counting of the ballots from Sunday’s local elections in what is widely seen as a blow to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, himself a former mayor of the city.

The CHP candidate in Turkey’s capital Ankara, Mansur Yavas, already claimed victory, but the results in the 16-million megalopolis located in both Europe and Asia remained even more contested on Monday.

Opposition bidder Ekrem Imamoglu remained in the lead with 4,159,650 votes, while the candidate of Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, Turkey’s last Prime Minister in 2016 – 2018, Binali Yildirim, had 4,131,761 votes, the head of the country’s High Election Board Sadi Guven announced, as cited by Hurriyet Daily News.

“So far a total of 31,102 ballot box results [in Istanbul] have been defined to the system, 84 ballot box results have not been completed because of objections,” the electoral official is quoted as saying.

Before that, both rivals claimed the victory in Istanbul’s mayoral race, and rejected each other’s claims.

“We won elections in Istanbul. We thank the people of Istanbul for handing in the duty to us,” Yildirim told supporters before midnight on March 31.

Nationally, the alliance led by Turkish President’s AKP party has won over 51% of the votes in Sunday’s local elections but strong opposition results in a number of major cities are seen as an unfavorable verdict by certain groups of voters on Erdogan’s track record, as the Turkish economy went into recession in the last quarter of 2018, and the Turkish currency, the lira, has been losing value.

AKP is expected to challenge legally the election results in Instanbul and the eastern province of Igdir.

“We have a long period ahead where we will carry out economic reforms without compromising on the rules of the free-market economy,” Erdogan, himself a former Mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, said on Monday, as cited by the state-run Anadolu agency.

“If there are any shortcomings, it is our duty to correct them,” the Turkish leader added.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also scored major victories in Turkey’s coastal provinces, with its candidate Mustafa Tunc Soyer elected Mayor of Izmir. The CHP also won 24 of the city’s districts, while the AKP won only four.

The CHP also won the Mayor’s seats in the Mediterranean coast cities of Antalya, Mersin and Hatay.

More than 57 million people were eligible to vote in Turkey’s local elections, with the vote recording a turnout of almost 85%.

Sunday’s vote was the first time Turkey voted in local elections since Erdogan received expanded presidential powers in 2018 under the transition from a parliamentary to presidential republic that he had championed.

(Banner image: Hurriyet Daily News)

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