Erdogan’s AKP looked set for defeat in the capital Ankara and faced a dead heat in Istanbul after Sunday’s local election delivered a blow to a party in power for a decade and a half.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have won every vote since the party first came to power in 2002, but they had risked losing Ankara and faced a tough fight in Istanbul as an economic slowdown took hold in Turkey.
With 99 percent of the ballot boxes counted, the joint opposition candidate for Ankara mayor was winning with 50.89 percent of votes and the AKP on 47.06 percent, Anadolu state agency reported citing preliminary results.
Next city is in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and economic hub, the race for mayor was deadlocked with the AKP candidate claiming victory with 48.70 percent of votes, but his opponent on 48.65 percent also claimed he had won after almost all ballot boxes were counted.
“If there are any shortcomings, it is our duty to correct them,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters in Ankara without referring to the loss of the city directly. “Starting tomorrow morning, we will begin our work to identify our shortcomings and make up for them.”
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.
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.
But Erdogan, whose ability to win continuously at the polls is unparalleled in Turkish history, was more vulnerable with the economy in recession, unemployment higher and inflation in double digits.
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.
Voters on Sunday elected scores of mayors, municipal councils and other local officials.
In Ankara, Mansur Yavas — the candidate for both the opposition Republican People’s Party or CHP and the nationalist Good Party — claimed victory in a large rally full of supporters waving red Turkish flags and setting off fireworks.
“No one has lost. Ankara has won. All of Ankara has won, hand in hand,” he said.
Yavas had been slightly ahead in some recent opinion polls before the election.
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. The Malatya governorate said four individuals were detained.
Turkey’s state-run news agency
which has a monopoly over announcing election results, unprecedentedly stopped announcing Istanbul results for hours. According to unofficial reports opposition candidate #EkremImamoglu wins.
ahead in highly contested and extremely tight #Istanbul mayoral race. #Seçim2019
HDP and other left leaning parties have managed to swing election results in Ankara and Istanbul away from Erdogan’s AK party and over to the CHP. Kurds and other minorities showing their power.