Erdogan says his party wins election in Istanbul

01 April, 2019, 15:46 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Turkish flags in Izmir Turkey

For the first time in his 16 years in office, Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been punished at the ballot box as his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) lost control of the capital, Ankara, in fiercely fought local elections.

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.

Before the elections, there were assumptions in Western media that in the conditions of economic recession the Turkish president might lose control over Ankara and Istanbul.

The CHP, Turkey's secularist main opposition party, is claiming that its candidate in Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, has beaten Binali Yildirim, the AKP's candidate and former prime minister, by 27,600 votes.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, citing his party's data, said he had won by almost 28,000 votes.

"Erdogan's AKP has lost significant votes in the country's economic powerhouses", Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence in London, said in an emailed report on Monday.

A European group observing Turkey's local elections on Monday (April 1) criticised curbs on the free expression of citizens and journalists a day after local polls in which Turks appeared to hand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party defeats in big cities.

The AKP have won every election since coming to power in 2002, but analysts say this is the first time the party is no longer confident of its success.

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During voting, two members of Saadet (Felicity), a religiously conservative party, died after a fight between two groups in Puturge in eastern Turkey, private DHA news agency reported.

"AKP is the victor by far as it has always been since the November 3, 2002 elections when it won for the first time", he said. But the party faces the risk of losing mayoral seats in the elections taking place in 30 large cities, 51 provincial capitals and hundreds of districts as Turkey grapples with a weakened currency, a double-digit inflation rate and soaring food prices.

"According to our data, [Ekrem] Imamoglu has won in Istanbul".

When Yildirim spoke, the state-run news agency showed 98.8% of votes tallied, and then stopped reporting updated results for Istanbul for several hours after he declared victory.

In Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, the race between AKP's Binali Yildirim and CHP's Ekrem Imamoglu is continuing neck to neck as 96 percent of the votes were counted. In last year's presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan garnered 52.6 percent of the votes and his party and its nationalist ally won 53.7 percent of the parliamentary vote.

In both Istanbul and Ankara, along with other major Turkish cities where the HDP did not field candidates where it got some 10 percent of votes to swing the results in favor of the opposition.

They failed to capitalize on mounting discontent with the economic crisis in Turkey, which has seen inflation skyrocket and unemployment rise to 13.5 percent (nearly 25 percent among youth), and on deep-rooted opposition in Turkey to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and imperialist wars. "Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party", he told supporters in Ankara. Although the result won't affect Erdogan's formal grip on the executive body, the erosion in support will add urgency to efforts to put the economy back on a growth track and regain the confidence of investors after years of populist quick fixes. According to opinion polls the election there is too close to call.

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