Erdogan poised to lose Ankara, Istanbul in major upset

Opposition voices on social media expressed wariness over declaring a CHP victory in Istanbul.

There was a high turnout in the local elections in a sign that voters would send a punishing message to Erdogan over the dire economic situation.

Last year, after Erdogan announced snap parliamentary and presidential elections for June, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Committee voiced concern over their freedom and fairness and recommended they be postponed.

Who will get the green light in Istanbul?

Sunday's local elections were widely seen as a test of support for Erdogan as the nation of 81 million people faces a daunting economic recession with double-digit inflation, rising food prices and high unemployment.

Supporters of opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) celebrate after early results of the local election in Ankara. But he did not refer directly to the loss of Ankara.

The results, if they stand, will mark the first time the AK Party and its Islamist predecessors have lost control of Turkey's two largest cities in 25 years.

"We saw the impact of the economy in the field, because there was serious unease", one of the sources said, adding that Istanbul accounted for 40 percent of Turkey's economy, meaning that any slowdown would hit the city hard. The election was marred by sporadic violence, with five dead and scores injured across Turkey.

A strategic decision by the pro-Kurdish party to sit out critical races in major cities may have contributed to the secular party's increase in votes.

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The secular opposition also made significant gains in provinces along the Mediterranean, including taking Adana from the nationalists and the resort town of Antalya from the ruling party.

Separately, deputy AK Party chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz said 17,410 votes that should have been counted for AK Party had been registered to other parties.

The CHP took over the capital after 25 years, which was governed by the ruling party AKP since it came to the rule. Erdogan's own ascent to power began as Istanbul mayor in 1994.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory. The AKP said it would appeal against the results in both cities.

After a decade and a half of dominance built on Turkey's buoyant growth Tayyip Erdogan has paid a heavy electoral price for an economic slump and will make changes to his government to halt the damage, senior officials in his party said on Monday.

CHP candidate Mansur Yavas won the mayoral race in Ankara, preliminary results showed.

He argued, however, that a pause in elections until 2023 would benefit Erdogan.

"I am afraid we. are not fully convinced that Turkey now has the free and fair electoral environment which is necessary for genuinely democratic elections in line with European values and principles", said Mr Andrew Dawson. The government previously had replaced elected HDP mayors with government-appointed trustees for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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