Opposition candidate leads Istanbul mayor race

Candidate of the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) for Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu (centre) is greeted by supporters in Istanbul April 1, 2019. Imamoglu leads by nearly 28,000 votes after the weekend local election, Supreme Election Board chairman Sadi Guven said on April 1. — AFP pic
Candidate of the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) for Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu (centre) is greeted by supporters in Istanbul April 1, 2019. Imamoglu leads by nearly 28,000 votes after the weekend local election, Supreme Election Board chairman Sadi Guven said on April 1. — AFP pic

ANKARA, April 1 — Turkey’s opposition candidate for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was leading today by nearly 28,000 votes with most ballot boxes counted, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Guven said.

Results from yesterday’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 4,159,650 votes while the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate and former premier Binali Yildirim garnered 4,131,761 votes in the city.

Both candidates had claimed victory in the early hours of oday following a tightly contested race for the country’s largest city and economic hub and with preliminary results showing them in a dead heat.

Procedures to challenge the vote continue, Guven said with 84 ballot boxes left to the counted.

Erdogan campaigned hard portraying the vote for mayors and district councils as a fight for the nation’s survival, but the election became a test of AKP’s support after an economic slowdown hit Turkey.

With 99 per cent of the ballot boxes counted early today, opposition candidate for Ankara mayor, Mansur Yavas was ahead with 50.89 per cent of votes and the AKP on 47.06 per cent, Anadolu state agency reported.

Erdogan, whose ability to win repeatedly at the polls is unparalleled in Turkish history, appeared more vulnerable with the economy in recession for the first time in a decade, unemployment higher and inflation in double digits. — AFP