Erdogan's ruling AKP suffers setback in Turkey's local election

Erdogan's ruling AKP suffers setback in Turkey's local election

Erdogan's ruling AKP suffers setback in Turkey's local election

This discontent is so deep that, at one point in the election campaign, sections of Erdogan's own AKP led by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu publicly discussed ditching Erdogan and founding their own new party.

His candidate for Istanbul, former premier Binali Yildirim earlier claimed he had won, but his opponent Ekrem Imamoglu said it was premature, with final results still being counted.

Speaking from the balcony of party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, where he has for years declared victory, Erdogan said he and his allies had come out first.

Preliminary results also showed the opposition, the People's Republican Party (CHP), ahead of the President's Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul.

In a further potential blow, claims of an AKP victory in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, were challenged by the opposition.

Turkey's opposition candidate for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was leading Monday by almost 28,000 votes with most ballot boxes counted, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Guven said.

AKP secretary general Fatoih Sahin said the party will appeal in Ankara, saying the gap between the candidates "will narrow down and I believe it will eventually turn into a positive result for us".

Losing Turkey's two major cities would be a clear setback for Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) who won every vote in a decade and a half in power thanks in part to economic growth.

The Turkish leader did not directly mention the full election results there or in Istanbul. Election campaigns are a chance for Mr Erdogan to travel across his vast country, showcasing the populist genius that has kept him at the top of Turkish politics for 16 years.

Ballot counts were still underway Monday morning in an anxious wait for Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and commercial hub.

As the economy slipped into recession and the lira lurched from one crisis to another, the president has lashed out at enemies at home and overseas, warning bankers of a "heavy price" to pay after the elections for feeding the currency chaos. The AKP said it had "plenty of" evidence of voting irregularities in Istanbul.

Erdogan also said the next elections would be held in June 2023 and that Turkey would carefully implement a "strong economic programme" without compromising on free market rules. "Ankara has won. All of Ankara has won, hand in hand", he told supporters.

According to unofficial results, the ruling party lost the capital, Ankara, and the head of Turkey's electoral board said the opposition was also leading in Istanbul.

In a Monday statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi congratulated neighboring Turkey over the successful holding of local and municipality elections, noting that democracy in the regional countries is the guarantee for the region's independence, security and stability.

The secular, main opposition alliance, the Republican People's Party, or CHP had 30 percent. The CHP supported Erdogan's role in the NATO-led proxy war in Syria and, before the AKP took power in 2002, had already while in government established a record as a party of austerity.

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