Turkey local election: Opposition CHP leading in key cities

With nearly 100% of ballot boxes counted, Turkey's opposition CHP secured election victories in Istanbul and Ankara. If confirmed, the result would be a major setback for President Erdogan's AK party

A good night for reelected mayor Imamoglu has meant a bad night for President Erdogan. (photo: DW)
A good night for reelected mayor Imamoglu has meant a bad night for President Erdogan. (photo: DW)


Turkey's opposition candidate and incumbent mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, is leading in local elections, according to preliminary results.

Imamoglu, of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had nearly 50.92% of the vote with around 92% of the ballot boxes counted in Istanbul, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

"Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens sent a message to both our rivals and the president," the 53-year-old former businessman told supporters late on Sunday. "Thank you Istanbul," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Millions of Turks cast their vote to elect mayors and administrators in local elections on Sunday. The vote gauges Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity as his ruling party tries to win back key cities.

The main battleground for the Turkish president was Instanbul, where he was born and raised and where he began his political career as mayor in 1994.

Opposition upbeat after partial results

"We are in first position with a lead of more than a million votes ... We have won the election," Imamoglu told reporters at the CHP's Istanbul headquarters.

Murat Kurum, the candidate of Erodgan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which rules nationally, had around 40%, according to Anadolu Agency.

Mansur Yavas, the mayor of the capital, Ankara, retained his seat with a stunning 25-point difference over his AKP challenger, the results indicated. Yavas declared victory, saying, "the elections are over, we will continue to serve Ankara."

The CHP was also ahead in Turkey's third-largest city, Izmir and looked to be leading in 36 of the country's 81 provinces, according to the preliminary results reported by state broadcaster TRT.

The CHP was leading with 37.32% with 90% of all ballot boxes opened across all provinces, according to Anadolu Agency. The AKP had 35.78%, it said.

This means the CHP led nationwide by almost 1% of the votes, a first in 35 years.

Erdogan says 'self-criticism' required

Speaking to supporters at his party headquarters in Ankara, Edrogan admitted the outcome was a setback for his ruling AKP party.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve the result we desired and hoped for in the local election test," Erdogan said.

"We will honestly assess the results of the elections ... and courageously exercise self-criticism," the 70-year-old added.

Some 61 million people, including more than a million first-time voters, were eligible to cast ballots for all metropolitan municipalities, town and district mayorships as well as neighborhood administrations.

Anadolu Agency reported that voter turnout was around 76%.

Repeat of 2019 on the cards?

In 2019, the CHP won in Istanbul and Ankara with the ruling party demanding a rerun of the Istanbul vote, claiming there had been irregularities. The CHP also managed to win the rerun in the key battleground city.

Earlier this month, Erdogan — who himself was mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998 — said the municipal elections would be his last. He has been in power since 2003 when he was elected prime minister and then president in 2014.

In 2017, a constitutional change abolished the office of prime minister, giving Erdogan full executive power.

In May last year, Erdogan fell short of a majority of votes in the first round of presidential elections. In 2014 and 2018, he won outright and there was no runoff vote.

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Published: 01 Apr 2024, 10:52 AM