PM Imran congratulates Turkey’s President Erdogan for local polls victory

Erdogan Party Leads Nationwide Vote Total, But Suffers Big Setbacks In Mayor Races

Although Erdogan was not running for office Sunday, he became the face of the campaign, rallying tirelessly for months across Turkey, using hostile rhetoric against opposition parties and portraying the vote as a matter of national survival.

Late last night, after Yildirim's lead shrank to only 4,000, the Official Election Commission (YSK) ceased updating vote results in Istanbul.

Results from Sunday's ballot also showed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP was set to lose the capital Ankara in what would be a major upset for the ruling party in power for a decade and a half.

Imamoglu won nearly 4.16 million votes while the AKP candidate, former premier Binali Yildirim, won 4.13 million. One per cent of the votes were still to be counted. The secular main opposition party, CHP, had 30% overall.

Both Ankara and Istanbul have been held by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years.

At least 12 political parties took part in the March 31 local polls in Turkey.

In Istanbul, the head of the country's high election board said opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu led AK Party candidate and former prime minister Binali Yildirim by almost 28,000 votes. The AKP said it would appeal against the results in both cities.

The government had led a hostile campaign against Yavas and his party, accusing him of forgery and tax evasion.

Erdogan Party Leads Nationwide Vote Total, But Suffers Big Setbacks In Mayor Races

Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, Erdogan said the next elections would be held in June 2023 and that Turkey would carefully implement a "strong economic programme" without compromising on free market rules.

Erdogan acknowledged setbacks in a speech to his supporters, saying his party would work to understand what had gone wrong and fix the problem.

In a further potential blow, claims of an AKP victory in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, were challenged by the opposition.

High Election Board Chairman Sadi Guven told reporters the CHP Istanbul candidate Ekrem Imamoglu had 4,159,650 votes, while the AKP candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, had 4,131,761 votes.

The lira overnight swap rate in London meanwhile soared to 400 percent from around 200 percent - well off the 1,200 percent to which it rocketed last Wednesday as the lira came under renewed pressure in the run up the vote. The private Demiroren news agency showed Imamoglu leading Monday. That means that out of some 10 million ballots cast in the city, the difference at the time was about 5,000 votes. Erdogan's own ascent to power began as Istanbul mayor in 1994.

In predominantly Kurdish provinces, a pro-Kurdish party won seven top mayoral seats but lost some strongholds, including southeastern Sirnak province, to the ruling party.

However, recent economic troubles impacted party support, two AK Party sources said, after the lira slumped against the dollar a year ago, inflation jumped to 20 percent, unemployment climbed and the economy tipped into recession. Amid a media blackout and despite significant losses in the region, it regained the municipal mayor in the Kurds' symbolic capital, Diyarbakir. The opposition also increased its support along the Mediterranean, taking the city of Adana from the nationalists and the resort destination of Antalya from the ruling party.

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