Erdogan Suffers Major Setbacks in Local Elections in Turkey's Big Cities

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The chairman of Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK), Sadi Guven, said on Monday that Imamoglu was leading by almost 28,000 votes with most ballots counted.

AK Party candidates garnered the support of 44.42% of voters as main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) received 30.07% of the votes with 10 metropolitan municipalities and 10 city municipalities.

Ballot counts were still under way Monday morning in an anxious wait for Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and commercial hub.

The capital city was held by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years.

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.

In the week leading up to the elections, Turkish stocks, bonds and the currency sold off, prompting the government to direct banks to temporarily starve a key London market of lira liquidity, according to officials.

In Ankara, the CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş is predicted to have secured 50.9% of the vote, leaving the AKP candidate trailing with 47.1% - a result that would end a quarter of a century of Islamist party control of the capital.

More than 57 million people in Turkey were registered to vote for these elections.

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 a year ago.

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In turn Dr. Abdullah Aydogan said that prior to the elections he was more skeptical and was thinking that Erdogan would not let opposition win in Ankara and Istanbul. The opposition also retained its hold over Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city. The ruling party is also frequently accused of using state resources to campaign.

A strategic decision by the pro-Kurdish party to sit out critical races in major cities may have contributed to the secular party's increase in votes.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory.

Both parties have claimed victory, with Imamoğlu updating his Twitter profile to call himself mayor of Istanbul.

"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 in the week ahead of the elections echoing last year's currency crisis, weakened on Monday as much as 2.5 percent against the dollar before recovering early losses.

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

Since 2016, the government has replaced 95 elected municipal, provincial or district mayors with government-appointed trustees in a crackdown on the Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

The head of Turkey's election board, Sadi Güven, said on Tuesday that appeals in the elections results could be filed until Friday and hence the final results will not be announced until April 11.

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