Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his ruling party and its nationalist allies have won 56 percent of mayoral seats that were up for votes in Turkey’s municipal elections.
Erdogan spoke on Sunday from the balcony of his ruling Justice and Development Party headquarters in Ankara.
His party led the municipal elections with 45 percent of the votes, but suffered some setbacks, including losing the capital Ankara to the opposition.
The race in Istanbul is neck-to-neck, even though the ruling party’s candidate declared victory. Erdogan himself refrained from claiming victory in the city.
The vote was seen as a referendum on Erdogan amid a sharp economic downturn. Erdogan promised to strengthen the economy and increase growth and employment. He also said Turkey would work eliminate threats from Syrian Kurdish militants at Turkey’s southern borders.
State broadcaster TRT says former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim received 48.71 percent of the votes in Sunday’s municipal elections while the opposition’s candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, got 48.65 percent.
Yildirim said: “We have won the election in Istanbul. May the results be beneficial for Istanbul and our country.”
Turkish media said the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas had won a clear victory in Ankara.
However, both the CHP and Mr Erdogan’s AKP – or Justice and Development Party – claimed victory by a slender margin in the contest for mayor of Istanbul, which has been governed by AKP.
Erdogan also said “we accept that we have gained the hearts of the people in the places where we won, but were not successful enough in this regard in the places that we lost.”