In a tight race, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party claimed victory in Istanbul, while the opposition declared itself the winner in Ankara. Sunday’s vote was seen as a “referendum” on Erdogan’s popularity.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) said they secured most mayoral positions nationwide in Sunday’s municipal elections. The AKP appears to have lost to the main opposition’s candidate in the capital Ankara, while both sides claimed victory in Istanbul.
More than 57 million voters were eligible to take part in electing the mayors for 30 major cities, 51 provincial capitals and 922 districts across Turkey. The elections were seen as a crucial test for Erdogan’s popularity.
Claims and counter-claims in Istanbul
With 98 percent of ballots counted, the AKP said it had won in Istanbul — Turkey’s largest and most politically important city – after a very close fight. The ruling party reported to have obtained 48.71 percent of votes against the opposition’s 48.65 percent.
“We have won the election in Istanbul. We thank Istanbul’s residents for the mandate they have given us,” Binali Yildirim, a former premier and loyalist of Erdogan, told supporters.
But opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu criticized Yildirim for making that claim when the result was too close to call.
“I would like to announce to Istanbul’s residents and all of Turkey that our numbers show that it is clear we won Istanbul,” Imamoglu said in a speech.
State media reported that Erdogan’s Islamic-based party won nearly 48 percent of the votes across the country, while the main opposition party, the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), bagged 31 percent of the vote.