Opposition candidate leads Istanbul mayor race: Election chief

Opposition candidate leads Istanbul mayor race: Election chief

Opposition candidate leads Istanbul mayor race: Election chief

If these results are confirmed, they will demonstrate a decline for President Erdogan, who has dominated in the polls since his becoming Prime Minister in 2003.

"Every gain and every loss is the will of our people and also a requirement of democracy that should be acknowledged", Erdoğan said in Istanbul before flying to Ankara.

According to preliminary results, the Erdogan-led Justice and Development Party has received 51.66% of the vote, while the alliance of leading opposition parties, the Republican People's Party and the Iyi Party, has accumulated 37.57% of the vote.

Late last night, after Yildirim's lead shrank to only 4,000, the Official Election Commission (YSK) ceased updating vote results in Istanbul.

His candidate for Istanbul, former premier Binali Yildirim earlier claimed he had won, but his opponent Ekrem Imamoglu said it was premature, with final results still being counted. However, the HDP lost the vote in a number of smaller cities in the region-several to AKP "trustee" mayors imposed by the Erdogan government during its anti-democratic crackdown on Kurdish areas, and one to the Stalinist Communist Party of Turkey.

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.

"Most probably he will emphasize guaranteeing a certain level of economic growth until the next general elections", said Emre Erdogan, a professor at Istanbul Bilgi University and no relation to the president.

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.

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The results, if they stand, will mark the first time the AK Party and its Islamist predecessors have lost control of Turkey's two largest cities in 25 years. He did not specify which percentage of votes had been counted.

The source added that Istanbul - Turkey's largest city - accounted for 40 percent of Turkey's economy, meaning that any slowdown would hit the city hard. That means that out of some 10 million ballots cast in the city, the difference was about 5,000 votes.

The local elections were held for the first time after the president acquired sweeping executive powers following the April 2017 referendum.

AKP's success has always been attributed to his effective economic expertise, but the national currency the Lira has been devalued days before the ballots were open, in addition to the fact that the country faced recession since the beginning of 2019.

Imamoglu said in a later press conference that he won the race by more than 29,000 votes.

In Ankara, Yavas - the candidate for both the opposition Republican People's Party or CHP and the nationalist Good Party - claimed victory in a large rally full of supporters waving red Turkish flags and setting off fireworks.

In addition to Ankara, Mediterranean tourism hub Antalya, coastal province Adana and port hub Mersin looked headed for opposition control, with candidates allied to the CHP defeating mayors who won in the last municipal elections for one of two parties in Erdogan's alliance.

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