Published: Mon, April 01, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Erdogan Loses Key Cities in Local Elections

Erdogan Loses Key Cities in Local Elections

Both candidates -Ekrem Imamoglu for secular Republican People's Party, or CHP, and former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim for the ruling party- claimed they had won.

According to unofficial results by the state-run Anadolu news agency, Mansur Yavas, the main opposition's candidate, won 50.9 per cent of the votes in Ankara, bringing an end to 25 years of administration by the AKP and its Islamic-oriented predecessor.

Last year, after Erdogan announced snap parliamentary and presidential elections for June, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Committee voiced concern over their freedom and fairness and recommended they be postponed.

Meanwhile, the race in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, remained too close to call.

"If (Erdogan) can not create a solution, it's inevitable that there will be greater losses in the period ahead", another party source said.

Supporters of Justice and development party (AKP) wave a flag picturing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as they celebrate during a rally near the headquarters of the conservative AKP party on March 31, 2019 in Istanbul after the non-definitive results of the local elections to elect the mayors for 30 large metropolitan cities, 51 provincial capitals and 922 districts.

In Istanbul, former prime minister Binali Yildirim clinched a hard victory with 50 percent of votes against 48 percent for his opponent Ekrem Imamoglu, who also claimed wining the race.

An official with Turkey's ruling party says they will challenge the vote count for the mayoral election in the capital city, Ankara.

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The Turkish leader suggested if his party lost in Istanbul, they would still control the district council even if the opposition held the mayor's office. "Ankara has won. All of Ankara has won, hand in hand", he said.

However, recent economic troubles impacted party support, two AK Party sources said, after the lira slumped against the dollar a year ago, inflation jumped to 20 percent, unemployment climbed and the economy tipped into recession.

Sunday's poll was the first municipal ballot since Turks approved constitutional reforms in 2017 to create an executive presidency that gave Erdogan wider powers after 16 years in office.

The lira tumbled nearly 30 percent against the dollar in last year's currency crisis.

Defeat for Erdogan's Islamist-rooted party in Ankara was a significant blow for the president. Opinion polls showed that the election campaign would be most intense there.

Erdogan pledged that Turkey would now focus on its troubled economy in the run-up to national elections in 2023.

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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