Opposition Mayors in Key Turkey's Cities to Face Uphill Struggle - Scholar

Jermaine Castillo
April 3, 2019

Senocak said party officials had come across a large number of irregularities and that these may be enough to change the outcome of elections in Turkey's most populous province.

AK Party's Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim told reporters on Monday that invalid votes cast on Sunday outnumber the vote difference tenfold, adding that his rival Ekrem Imamoglu - the candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) - now had 25,000 more votes.

The scholar also emphasised that despite losing in two key cities, Ankara and Istanbul, the AK Party actually increased its vote share nationwide compared to previous local elections.

It is more likely than not that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will eventually accept the AKP's loss of the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities.

The AK Party is on track to lose control of what are Turkey's two biggest cities, its commercial hub of Istanbul and the capital Ankara, in a surprise election setback that may complicate Erdogan's plans to combat recession.

Dawson urged the Turkish government to respect the election results.

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The AKP's candidate for Ankara mayor, Mehmet Ozhaseki, won 47.1% support and his party said it would challenge the results.

Despite daily rallies and overwhelmingly supportive media coverage, the president has failed to assuage concerns among many voters over Turkey's tip towards economic recession after a currency crisis previous year.

In Ankara, the CHP mayoral candidate, Mansur Yavas, won a clear victory, according to Turkish broadcasters.

It also retained its hold over Izmir, Turkey's third largest city, located on the Aegean Sea.

The vote was held in 30 cities, 51 municipal cities and 922 districts across the country on Sunday. The ruling party is also frequently accused of using state resources to campaign.

Imamoglu had 48.79 percent of the votes while Yildirim had 48.52 percent, Anadolu reported on Tuesday, citing preliminary results.

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Mr Erdogan himself was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994 following a wave of support for Islamist politics - and eight years later, his party was leading the country.

Sunday's election was a significant victory for the opposition, which displayed good strategies and promising candidates, said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, the Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund.

The renewed slip in Turkey's financial markets and uncertain policy reaction to recession raises a risk of further capital flight, Moody's said, adding that the local poll results would help determine the future path of economic policy.

Erdogan pledged that Turkey would now focus on its troubled economy in the run-up to national elections in 2023.

"This gives the governing party and President Erdogan a window of opportunity to undertake economic reforms, political reforms if they wish, fix Turkey's relations with foreign countries", he said.

The Turkish lira, which swung wildly tmsnrt.rs/2CEaO11 in the week ahead of the elections, echoing last year's currency crisis, initially weakened on Monday as much as 2.5 percent before recovering. The HDP denies links to the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.

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"There is still three days for objections", he added, implying that a final result will take some time.

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