Setback for Erdogan as Turks 'vote democracy'

02 April, 2019, 07:45 | Author: Frank Williams
  • 57 million Turks casts votes at some 200,000 ballot boxes across the country to elect the mayors for 30 large metropo

There was a three-day period for election results to be challenged, Guven said, adding that results of 84 out of 31,186 ballot boxes in Istanbul had not yet been scanned into the system due to challenges.

In Istanbul, the country's largest city and economic hub, the CHP mayoral candidate was more than 22,000 votes ahead of his AKP opponent as the last votes were being counted, according to the country's electoral board.

The election commission also said that the opposition party is taking the lead in Istanbul, the country's largest city.

Behlul Ozkan, an associate professor at Marmara University, said Erdogan's loss of ground in Ankara and Istanbul indicated that his socially conservative and construction-driven policies no longer resonated in Turkey's cities.

Since 2016, the government has replaced 95 elected municipal, provincial or district mayors with government-appointed trustees in a crackdown on the Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

They were also a first test for Erdogan - who has been accused of increasingly authoritarian tendencies - since he got widely expanded presidential powers previous year.

The CHP took over the capital after 25 years, which was governed by the ruling party AKP since it came to the rule.

Speaking as the results were still being counted, Erdogan said that the outcome of the elections would be the "nation's will".

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Much of the AKP's success has been down to Erdogan's perceived economic prowess, but days before the vote, the Turkish lira was sliding again, provoking memories of the 2018 currency crisis that badly hurt Turkish households.

AK Party's Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim told reporters on Monday that invalid votes cast on Sunday outnumber the vote difference tenfold, adding that his rival Ekrem Imamoglu - the candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) - now had 25,000 more votes.

The main opposition party winning the race for metropolitan mayor in Ankara marks a symbolic shift.

Yavas had been slightly ahead in some recent opinion polls before the election.

There was a high turnout in the local elections in a sign that voters would send a punishing message to Erdogan over the dire economic situation.

"These losses will harm his reputation as a good local politician". Erdogan fielded one of his loyalists, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, in a push to win the city. He was often rallying in Istanbul's districts.

In the fear of a further devaluation of Turkish Lira following March 31st's local election, both investors, mutual funds and financial institutions had been found purchasing American dollar, buoying the US Dollar's position against Turkish currency. "We thank Istanbul's residents for the mandate they have given us", Yildirim told supporters as final tallies were arriving. The AKP said it had "plenty of" evidence of voting irregularities in Istanbul.

A strategic decision by a pro-Kurdish party to sit out critical races in major cities contributed to the opposition's gains.

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