Erdogan's AK Party challenges Istanbul, Ankara election results

Ann Santiago
April 3, 2019

Erdogan's AKP and coalition partner won more than 50 percent of votes nationwide in Sunday's local ballot, but defeat in both Turkey's capital and its economic hub would be a setback after the party's decade and a half in power.

The defeat of Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul was the most scalding in a string of urban losses, in which the group ceded control of nearly all of Turkey's major cities including Ankara on Sunday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party has challenged the results of the local elections in the country's two biggest cities, where preliminary results show narrow victories for the opposition candidates.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition candidate in an alliance led by the secular Republican People's Party, or CHP, declared that he won Istanbul but his rival, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of the ruling party, said it was still too early to call. The number of canceled votes is 319,500.

But if the Islamist-rooted AKP appeals as promised, the announcement of the official results will be delayed for days.

Waving ballot records, in which he said the vote count irregularities could be seen, Senocak added: "Whichever officials did this and for whatever reason, we will closely follow the necessary legal steps". "I will congratulate him if the election board YSK announces him as the victor but I must note that the counting process is still ongoing".

"I'm watching Mr Binali Yildirim with regret".

Sean Darby, chief global equity strategist, said: "Despite conflicting claims over the local election results during the past weekend, President Erdogan's clasp on power remains tight". "Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party", he said.

"There have been complaints about certain ballot boxes". The results, which were still being tallied on Monday evening, would likely bring personnel changes at the highest ranks of government, according to sources inside and close to the AKP.

Investors fear Erdogan's electoral losses will lead him "to be more defensive, trying to shore up electoral support via populist measures, which increases risks for markets", said Inan Demir, senior emerging market economist at Nomura, in London. "Everyone should respect it", he added, emphasizing that there are discrepancies between reports from polling centers and vote counts for Ankara and Istanbul.

"The [appeal] process is legitimate".

If the initial outcomes hold, it would be a political setback for the Turkish leader, who campaigned extensively for his party's candidates.

Even though Erdogan is firmly entrenched in an all-powerful presidency after winning re-election a year ago, political analysts do see the elections for mayors and city councils as a referendum on what is described as his authoritarian style of rule.

Turkish lira stood at 5.6275 against USA dollar at 0357 GMT, but its slip on March 22 marked its worst performance since August when a full-blown crisis took hold and tipped Turkey's economy into a recession that could last deep into this year. National economy slipped into recession in the last three months of 2018 amid public discontent with rising inflation and unemployment rate.

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