Turkish opposition overtakes Erdogan's party in local elections - UPDATED

Turkey's main opposition formation, the Republican People's Party (CHP), has overtaken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the local elections.

The CHP leads with 38.11% of the vote against 36.96% for the AKP with 48.86% of ballots counted nationwide. Voter turnout is 76.35%.

The pro-Kurdish Unity and Democracy Party /DEM/ remains in third place with 5.81%. The Islamist New Prosperity Party remains in 4th position with 5.18%. The Nationalist Action Party /PAN/ takes 5th place with 3.65%.

Polling stations in the country's 81 provinces closed between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time.

"Battle for local power of national importance"

CHP candidates for mayors of Istanbul and Ankara Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas won 50.29% and 58.64% respectively. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidates Murat Kurum (Istanbul candidate) and Turgut Altanok (Ankara candidate) get 41.00% and 33.68% respectively.

In Turkey's third-largest city Izmir, the Republican People's Party candidate Cemil Tugay leads with 48.04%, while the Justice and Development Party's Hamza Dag receives 37.08%.

This means that the candidates of the opposition bloc win Istanbul and the capital Ankara in the first round. The opposition dominates the European part of Turkey and the Aegean coastal regions, while the Justice and Development Party leads in Anatolia.

The CHP expects victory in the provinces of Antalya, Adana, Adyaman, Afyonkarahisar, Edirne, Hatay, Bursa and others.

The AKP is leading in Aksaray, Bayburt, Bingöl, Bayburt, Gaziantep, etc.

The head of Turkey's Higher Election Commission (Central Election Commission) Ahmet Yener reported that the day passed in a calm atmosphere, but according to Turkish media, 2 murders were committed in the course of voting. There were also about 12 injured.

According to Turkey's Interior Ministry, security for the elections was provided by some 600 000 members of the security services and volunteers.

The "Battle for Istanbul"

Head of state Recep Erdogan was particularly involved in the battle for Istanbul, where he was mayor in the 1990s before coming to power, supporting his candidate, former minister Murat Kurum.

His aim was to take back the country's largest and richest city from the incumbent CH[P mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who took it from him in 2019, inflicting his biggest electoral defeat.

If re-elected, the ambitious mayor, whom Erdogan portrays as a "part-time mayor" consumed by his national ambitions, will rack up points for the 2028 presidential election. /BGNES