Erdogan says his party wins election in Istanbul

Erdogan Party Leads Nationwide Vote Total, But Suffers Big Setbacks In Mayor Races
Erdogan’s party and opposition both claim victory in neck-and-neck Istanbul race
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02 April, 2019

Erdogan acknowledged that the AKP may have lost city hall to the CHP challenger, although he said his party remained the largest in the city.

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

The vote is one of the most divisive elections In Turkey's modern history and was marred by violence, with two members of the Islamic Felicity Party shot dead, a party spokesman said.

Turkish broadcasters said opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas had won a clear victory in Ankara.

If the opposition won in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and commercial hub, that would be a watershed moment.

"The people have voted in favor of democracy, they have chosen democracy", said opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, whose secularist CHP also held its Aegean coastal stronghold of Izmir, Turkey's third largest city.

Anadolu said the AKP would appeal in some Ankara districts. Many former partners might think twice before resuming an alliance after Erdogan's campaign condemnation of opponents he said were linked to terrorists.

The Turkish leader did not directly mention the full election results there or in Istanbul.

Votes are still being counted in Istanbul where the race for mayor is said to be "too close to call". 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. He did not specify which percentage of votes had been counted.

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The loss in Istanbul, analysts said, would be especially sensitive for Erdogan, who grew up in the city's working-class Kasimpasa neighborhood, and liked to tell AKP rank-and-file that victory in the city was like winning all of Turkey.

But in a sign of possible turmoil ahead, AKP officials said they would challenge the alleged invalidation of tens of thousands of votes in both cities.

"We, as Turkey, will impose our powerful economic program in accordance with our aims and without concessions on the rules of free market economy", he declared.

The secular, main opposition alliance, the Republican People's Party, or CHP had 30 percent.

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.

During his long tenure - first as prime minister, then as president - Erdogan has drawn strong support from ordinary Turks grateful for the stability and growth he brought, from liberals who backed his efforts to curb Turkey's military, and from Kurdish groups who entered into peace talks with Ankara.

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.

Erdogan has waned at rallies that if the opposition candidate wins in Ankara, residents would "pay a price" and accused his rivals of terrorist supporters aiming to ruin Turkey. Inflation is in double digits, and foreign currency debt payments are high.


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