Erdogan Pledges to Focus on Turkey’s Troubled Economy after Electoral Losses

Erdogan Pledges to Focus on Turkey’s Troubled Economy after Electoral Losses

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan suffered a severe setback as his ruling AK Party lost control of the capital Ankara for the first time in a local election and he appeared to concede defeat in the country's largest city, Istanbul.

UNIAN memo. Istanbul is the largest city and financial capital of Turkey.

Turkey's opposition candidate for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was leading Monday by almost 28,000 votes with most ballot boxes counted, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Guven said.

Imamoglu won nearly 4.16 million votes while the AKP candidate, former premier Binali Yildirim, won 4.13 million.

But in crucial mayoral races, the CHP declared victory in the capital, Ankara, and in the major city of Izmir. In big cities, voters cast four ballots, for metropolitan mayor, district mayor, the municipal assembly and a neighborhood administrator.

The opposition says shrinking support for Erdogan would mark the beginning of the end of his 16-year rule.

Nationwide, AKP remains the largest party with 45 per cent of the vote, according to partial results released by Anadolu state news agency with 91 per cent of ballot boxes opened. His finance minister has already said economic reforms will be announced next week.

Erdogan declared victory in the elections on Sunday night but the opposition's success in Ankara and elsewhere dealt a significant blow to his party's dominance.

"We will accept that we have won the hearts of our people in the places where we won, and we were not successful enough in the places where we lost, and we will decide on our action plan accordingly", Erdogan said.

Erdoğan delivers a speech in Istanbul on Sunday.

The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) managed to regain several seats across the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, where the government has replaced elected mayors with government-appointed trustees in the past after alleging that the ousted officials had links to the outlawed militant PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party. The election was marred by sporadic violence, with five dead and scores injured across Turkey.

"In Istanbul, the majority of the districts are either ours or head-to-head".

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 overseas, warning bankers of a "heavy price" to pay after the elections for feeding the currency chaos.

Although the president was not on the ballot himself, he has campaigned tirelessly over the last few weeks in an attempt to draw attention away from the economy.

The country has also been dealing with higher unemployment rates and inflation.

"The Istanbul uncertainty.may stay in the forefront and overshadow other developments in the markets", said one banker who declined to be identified.

Behlul Ozkan, associate professor of worldwide relations at Marmara University, says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's loss of ground in local elections in Ankara and Istanbul indicate that his socially conservative and construction-driven policies no longer resonate in the cosmopolitan cities.

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