Ankara:- Turkeys ruling party has suffered major setbacks in local elections, losing control of the capital and potentially also Istanbul. According to unofficial results, the ruling party lost the capital, Ankara.
The head of Turkeys electoral board said the opposition was also leading in Istanbul by nearly 28,000 votes.
Sundays local elections were widely seen as a test of support for Erdogan as the nation of 81 million people faces a daunting economic recession with double-digit inflation, rising food prices and high unemployment.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in the elections, but the oppositions success in key cities dealt a significant blow to his partys dominance. Ballot counts were still under way this morning in an anxious wait for Istanbul, Turkeys largest city and commercial hub.
Ekrem Imamoglu for the secular Republican Peoples Party, or CHP, and former prime minister Binali Yildirim for the ruling party claimed they had won. Electoral board head Sadi Guven said votes were still being counted and objections taken into account.
The opposition has accused the state-run Anadolu news agency of bias in reporting ballot counts, and the agencys unofficial results for Istanbul were stuck at 98 per cent of votes counted for hours. The mayors seat in the city of 15 million is hugely important. Erdogans own ascent to power began there in 1994. He has been quoted at rallies saying: Whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.
The main opposition party winning the race for metropolitan mayor in Ankara marks a symbolic shift. The capital city was held by Erdogans Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years. Unofficial results reported by Anadolu showed Mansur Yavas, the candidate of the CHP, winning the top post in Ankara. The AKP still holds a majority of Ankaras 25 districts.
The government had led a hostile campaign against Yavas and his party, accusing him of forgery and tax evasion. More than 57 million voters were eligible to take part in choosing the mayors of 30 major cities, 51 provincial capitals and 922 districts in Turkey.
Despite the setbacks, Erdogans ruling party and an allied nationalist party still won more than half of the votes across Turkey. Speaking from the balcony of party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, where he has for years declared victory, Erdogan said he and his allies had come out first.
He said the party would work to understand and fix where they failed. Andrew Dawson, heading the Council of Europes election observation mission, said Monday that they were not fully convinced that Turkey currently has the free and fair electoral environment which is necessary for genuinely democratic elections in line with European values and principles.
He commended the Turkish public for the high turnout rate of 84 per cent and called it a sign of healthy democratic interest and awareness. Dawson called on the Turkish government to respect election results.
One of Russia’s richest women dies in private jet crash in Germany The secular opposition also made significant gains in provinces along the Mediterranean, including taking Adana from the nationalists and the resort town of Antalya from the ruling party. It also retained its hold over Izmir, Turkeys third largest city, located on the Aegean Sea. If Imamoglu wins in Istanbul, the opposition will administer the three most populous cities. Turkey will also have its first communist mayor, in the eastern province of Tunceli.
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