Turkey has undergone historical local elections on Sunday, leading the opposition to challenge the AK Party’s (AKP) more than 16 year-long-rule, by taking the lead in big cities, despite AKP and its nationalist ally has won the race in general.
Although the state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) announced more than 99 percent of the counted votes within hours after the elections on Sunday, it has stopped updating its reports of the vote count for the remaining less than one percent, which drew rebuff by the opposition.
The agency made a statement about the issue at around 1.30 am (local time), after drawing reactions from the opposition, claiming it had stopped receiving data on the results.
According to the unofficial results of the AA, which covers 99 percent of the votes, People’s Alliance, formed by the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), holds 51.67 percent of the vote share.
The Nation Alliance consisting of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and nationalist Good Party (IYI) gained 37.53 percent of the votes, in return.
While AKP won 44,42 percent of the votes, its electoral ally MHP remains at 7.25 percent. CHP’s vote percentage is 30,07, IYI, on the other hand, got the 7,46 percent of ballot boxes.
Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which did not nominate candidates in major cities, a move showing support to opposition against the ruling party, has received 4,1 percent of the votes.
Although the ruling AKP has won the election in general, the main opposition CHP took the lead in most of the big cities, symbolizing an important shift in votes after the last local elections held in 2014.
CHP took Turkey’s major cities of Ankara, Izmir, Mersin, Adana, and Antalya, in local elections which is described by the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his nationalist ally as “survival of the country.”
The opposition candidate Mansur Yavas has just got ahead of the ruling AKP candidate according to AA. pic.twitter.com/LVaXH8cr9b
— IPA NEWS (@ipanews_) March 31, 2019
In Turkey’s capital Ankara, CHP candidate Mansur Yavas got ahead of the ruling AKP candidate Mehmet Ozhaseki by three percent, with 50.90 percent of voting share compared to Ozhaseki’s 47.06 percent.
The AKP entered the election race in capital Ankara for the first time without its long-serving mayor Gokcek, who did not take part in the polls for the first time since 1994. Erdogan forced Gokcek to resign in 2017, as he warned his party members against “metal fatigue,” and called for a renewal in local governments.
Mustafa Tunc Soyer, CHP’s candidate of Turkey’s third largest Izmir province, has received 58.02 percent of the votes while ruling AK Party’s Nihat Zeybekci has only held 38.62 percent of the vote share.
The secular-liberal masses of the Aegean Izmir province have rooted for the CHP, the first political party established by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923; for several decades, making it a stronghold of the party.
Main opposition’s Vahap Secer gained 45.30 percent of the votes in Mersin, while MHP’s Hamit Tuna remained at 40.72 percent.
In Adana, Zeydan Karalar of CHP has got ahead of the MHP candidate Huseyin Sozlu. While 53.25 percent of the votes went to Karalar, Sozlu held 43.10 percent of the votes share.
The southern province of Antalya also voted for CHP’s candidate Muhittin Bocek with 53.63 percent of the votes, while AK Party’s Menderes Mehmet Tevfik Turel remained at 46.27 percent.
There was a huge controversy on the results of Istanbul and Bursa provinces, which are reportedly taken by the AKP candidates, according to results announced by AA on Sunday.
Although AA has reported that AKP’s Bursa candidate Alinur Aktas received 49.60 percent of the votes and CHP’s Mustafa Bozbey remained at 46.95 percent, the opposition party objected to that.
Bozbey said during a live broadcast on FOX TV on Sunday that his vote percentage increased after AA stopped updating its polling results around 11.21 pm. “We are 1.5 vote percentage ahead [of the AKP candidate],” Bozbey said, referring that CHP has its own data of counted votes.
The biggest dispute of the local elections took place over the votes cast in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul. AA has announced only 98 percent of Istanbul’s votes and showed ruling AKP’s candidate Binali Yildirim taking the lead by 0.05 percent against CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu. A gap between the votes that could easily be closed after the remaining two percent is also announced, main opposition argued.
— IPA NEWS (@ipanews_) March 31, 2019
Former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the ruling party’s candidate for mayor of Istanbul, declared victory even though the race was too close to call. Yildirim garnered 48.70 percent of the votes against the opposition candidate Imamoglu’s 48.65 percent. CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu rebuked Yildirim for declaring victory “in haste.”
Imamoglu said that he is leading in the Istanbul race with 50.40 percent of the votes, according to CHP data. “Unfortunately there is manipulation at hand. I call on YSK [Supreme Election Board] officials to do their duty and check the data,” he said.
Erdogan attaches great importance to Istanbul where he began his rise to power as its mayor in 1994. He has said at campaign rallies that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.”