Erdogan humbled in three largest cities
According to unofficial results, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party has lost mayoral elections in the largest three cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – in a rare setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Voting in 30 cities, 51 municipal capitals and 922 districts across Turkey on Sunday has been viewed widely as a referendum on the president’s handling of the economic crisis as the nation of 81 million people endures a recession for the first time since he entered office 16 years ago.
The lira lost around 40 per cent of its value against the US dollar last year.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said the official results would be released after the election commission studied complaints filed by the ruling party, which has three days to file objections.
The failing economy and highly disciplined Republican People’s Party (CHP) opposition caused the political upset.
“The people have voted in favour of democracy, they have chosen democracy,” said the CHP leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
The CHP deployed monitors to scrutinise the vote counts and sleep on sacks of counted ballots to guard against government tampering.
“We think they were not able to rig the election,” said Ilayda Kocoglu, 28, vice president of the CHP’s Istanbul wing, who slept on sealed ballots. “They were not expecting us to be that organized, or that resolved.”
Unofficial results show the CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu won the mayoral race in Istanbul with 48.8 per cent of the vote, while the AK’s Binali Yildirim received 48.5 per cent.
Ankara’s CHP candidate Mansur Yavas had 50.9-per-cent support, with the AK’s Mehmet Ozhaseki on 47.2 per cent.
In Izmir, the CHP’s Mustafa Tunc Soyer had 58 per cent of the vote with the AK’s Nihat Zeybekci on 38.5 per cent.
Erdogan’s party, which has won most Turkish elections this century, also fared poorly in the weekend’s municipal elections.
The race in Istanbul was particularly tight, with both AK Party and the CHP claiming victory in Istanbul’s mayoral election.
In Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, Yildirim raised objections to the results over invalid votes.
“There are 31,136 ballot boxes. If there is one invalid vote in each ballot box, it makes 31,136 votes in total, which is more than the difference” the AK candidate said. He added that there were around 315,500 invalid votes.
The AK party has dominated Turkish politics since 2003. Picture credit: Wikimedia