Erdogan Pays Electoral Price for Turkey's Tumbling Economy

Supporters of Ekrem Imamoglu main opposition Republican People's Party candidate for mayor of Istanbul wait for him to visit Anitkab

The AKP has lost the capital city of Ankara to the CHP as well as the third biggest city Izmir in local elections held on Sunday. But he did not refer directly to the loss of Ankara.

Since 2016, the government has replaced 95 elected municipal, provincial or district mayors with government-appointed trustees in a crackdown on the Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants. The Turkish leader was sworn in with nearly untrammelled 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.

People's Alliance of AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party claimed 51.67% while the Nation Alliance of CHP and Iyi Party gets 37.53% of overall votes.

The mayoral candidate for Istanbul from Turkey's ruling party admitted on Monday that his main opposition rival was taking the lead with a margin of 25,000 votes.

They are facing increased opposition with the country's economy in recession, unemployment up, and inflation in double digits.

Much of the AKP's success has been down to Erdogan's perceived economic prowess, but days before the vote, the Turkish lira was sliding again, provoking memories of the 2018 currency crisis that badly hurt Turkish households.

But Erdogan still came out on top as the ruling party and an allied nationalist party won more than half of the votes across Turkey.

During his long tenure - first as prime minister, then as president - Erdogan has drawn strong support from ordinary Turks grateful for the stability and growth he brought, from liberals who backed his efforts to curb Turkey's military, and from Kurdish groups who entered into peace talks with Ankara.

"These losses will harm his reputation as a good local politician".

"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. Losing Istanbul, a city three times the size of the capital, where he launched his political career and served as mayor in the 1990s, would be an even greater shock. The AKP still holds a majority of Ankara's 25 districts. "We want to cooperate with all institutions of Turkey to quickly meet the needs of Istanbul". "We thank Istanbul's residents for the mandate they have given us", Yildirim told supporters as final tallies were arriving.

"What matter of survival?"

The vote is one of the most divisive elections In Turkey's modern history and was marred by violence, with two members of the Islamic Felicity Party shot dead, a party spokesman said.

Observers say that with most media pro-government, opposition parties campaigned at a disadvantage because Erdogan's daily rallies dominated TV coverage. The CHP supported Erdogan's role in the NATO-led proxy war in Syria and, before the AKP took power in 2002, had already while in government established a record as a party of austerity. Some of its leaders have been jailed on terror charges, accusations they reject.

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