(Bloomberg) — Turkey’s ruling party took the lead in municipal elections on Sunday while looking likely to lose control of the capital, in a crucial vote that’s testing the popularity of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan less than a year after he secured a new mandate with sweeping powers.
Erdogan’s AK Party-led alliance had 52 percent of the national vote, with 74 percent of the ballot boxes opened, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The opposing camp led by the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, had 37 percent, Anadolu reported. The pro-Kurdish HDP, which is sitting out the races outsides its stronghold in Turkey’s eastern regions, garnered 3.9 percent.
Early results showed the opposition taking control of Mediterranean coastal cities from Erdogan’s alliance and making inroads in the capital Ankara and surrounding areas. The opposition’s candidate in Ankara was ahead by more than two percentage points as of 9:55 p.m. In Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial hub, Erdogan’s ally and former prime minister Binali Yildirim was leading with just under 50 percent of the votes.
As the economy slipped into recession and the lira lurched from one crisis to another, the president has lashed out at enemies at home and abroad, warning bankers of a “heavy price” to pay after the elections for feeding the currency chaos. Erdogan, 65, said Sunday that a victory would strengthen his presidential system.
The opposition says shrinking support for Erdogan would mark the beginning of the end of his 16-year rule. The Turkish leader was sworn in with almost untrammeled powers after last year’s general elections that followed a 2017 constitutional amendment to change Turkey’s political framework into an executive presidency from a parliamentary system.
The president’s critics accuse him of running an increasingly authoritarian system, curtailing media freedoms and muzzling political opponents through court cases. Clashes between rivals at some polling stations left at least two people dead on Sunday.
If early indications hold, at least nine cities may change hands. In addition to Ankara, Mediterranean tourism hub Antalya, coastal province Adana and port hub Mersin looked headed for opposition control, with candidates allied to the CHP defeating incumbent mayors from one of two parties in Erdogan’s alliance.
The overall share of the votes for Erdogan’s alliance, however, didn’t change much since last year’s presidential vote as he maintained his hold on the interior of the country. Erdogan got 52.6 percent of the vote in June.
To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul Abelsky
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.