Turkish opposition set to seize Ankara in major setback for Erdogan

Turkish opposition set to seize Ankara in major setback for Erdogan

Turkish opposition set to seize Ankara in major setback for Erdogan

Referendum on Erdogan's rule: The Turkish capital, Ankara, and Erdogan's home city, Istanbul, are symbolically very important.

The voting ended for local elections in all 81 provinces across Turkey at 5pm local time (1400GMT).

After voting in Istanbul, Erdogan said he was saddened by the incident and that it was being thoroughly investigated.

Felicity's leader, Temel Karamollaoglu, alleged a polling station volunteer and a party observer were shot by a relative of a ruling party candidate.

The election was marred by violence in the southeast and Istanbul. The Malatya governorate said four individuals were detained.

In Diyarbakir, two people were hurt, one of them critically, after being stabbed in a dispute between candidates, a hospital source said.

It was followed by a coalition led by the main opposition centre-left Republican People's Party, with 37.8 of the votes.

Another closely watched mayoral election is in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has fielded candidates in the Kurdish provinces where it traditionally gets the most votes in a bid to reclaim over 100 municipalities the Ankara government seized since 2016.

The Ottoman-era Blue Mosque and the sixth-century Byzantine monument of Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya) are seen in the old city as skyscrapers of the city's financial district stand in the background over the port of Istanbul June 1, 2007.

With nearly 90 percent of votes counted, the mayoral candidate of the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Mansur Yavas, had secured 50.3 percent, giving him a 2.8 percentage points lead over his AKP rival.

"The economy isn't doing so good for sure, but I have confidence in our president and things will be better after the election", said Koksal Karacan, a retiree voting in Istanbul's Kasimpasa, where Erdogan grew up. He blasted his rivals as terrorist supporters and warned that if the opposition candidate wins in Ankara, residents would "pay a price".

State broadcaster TRT says Erdogan's conservative Islamic-based party has garnered almost 47.5 percent of the votes with about 35 percent of the more than 194,000 ballot boxes counted.

Looking to galvanise his base among conservative Turks, the president cast the election as a matter of survival, attacking opposition candidates by branding them as linked to PKK Kurdish militants.

"We have an agreement with Russian Federation, and we are bound by it", he said, adding that pressure from other countries was against global law. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the CHP, told a rally in Eskisehir.

Erdogan, who began his own political career as Istanbul mayor, personally campaigned hard across Turkey, often with several rallies a day, even though he was not on the ballot.

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