Turkey local elections: Setback for Erdogan in big cities

Turkey local elections: Setback for Erdogan in big cities

Turkey local elections: Setback for Erdogan in big cities

It's a rarity for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Bad news at the voting booth, results that could signal real trouble for his reign after 15 years.

Sunday's elections were a test for Erdogan in a nation rocked with economic turmoil.

Demir says her party is calling on its supporters to vote for the main opposition CHP party.

The CHP's mayoral candidate for Ankara, Mansur Yavas won control of Ankara after 25 years of rule by the AKP and a predecessor party.

Erdogan's conservative, Islamic-based party gained 46 percent of the votes in the elections with more than half of the more than 194,000 ballot boxes counted, according to state broadcaster TRT.

Yildirim accepted that his rival was leading but said his party would file an objection, suggesting a recount of the 319,500 votes declared void in Istanbul.

Erdogan, whose rise to power began as Istanbul mayor in 1994, knows that a win for his party in Istanbul, the financial and cultural heart of Turkey, is crucial.

"This will certainly lead to an emerging new political landscape in Turkey", he said. The opposition won Ankara, a ruling party stronghold for decades, and was leading a tight race for mayor in Istanbul, according to unofficial figures Monday.

It was the first municipal vote since Mr Erdogan assumed sweeping executive powers through last year's presidential election. Erdogan campaigned tirelessly for AKP's candidates, framing the municipal elections as a matter of "national survival". He also portrayed the country's economic woes as attacks by enemies at home and overseas.

Economic prosperity provided Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party with previous electoral successes.

Four people were killed and dozens of others were injured in election-related violence across Turkey.

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Meanwhile, Sezgin Tanrikulu, a senior CHP MP from Istanbul, said that his party expected the board to declare victory later in the day.

Ballot counts were still underway on Monday morning in Turkey's largest city and commercial hub Istanbul.

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

Erdogan's ruling alliance, including the nationalist MHP, captured 51.7 percent of the nationwide vote with almost all votes counted, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency.

This is exactly why those exhausted of or unhappy with Mr. Erdogan's rule need to vote, however, and why the ballot remains important.

He argued, however, that a pause in elections until 2023 would benefit Erdogan. In connection to that, Erdogan's decision to address the crowds in Ankara alone, accompanied only by his wife, was noted by observers.

He stressed the victory of the opposition CHP put a pressure on it to deliver.

The ruling party accused Ankara mayoral candidate Yavas of forgery and tax evasion while also threatening to not accept results in the southeast if candidates with alleged "terror" links from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party -the second-largest opposition group in parliament - win there.

Losing the country's two major cities would be a stunning defeat for Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor himself, whose ability to win at the ballot box has been unparalleled in Turkish history.

AKP secretary general Fatoih Sahin said the party will appeal in Ankara, saying the gap between the candidates "will narrow down and I believe it will eventually turn into a positive result for us".

Opinion polls showed that the election campaign would be most intense there.

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