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Turkish Leader Erdogan Beaten by Opposition in Local Elections

Turkey’s main opposition party, the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), dealt a heavy blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the local elections this weekend, keeping the mayor’s office in Istanbul and Ankara and winning 15 other mayoral offices nationwide.   

With 100% reported ballots, CHP won 37.76% of the votes, ahead of Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP), TRT World reports.  

Erdogan’s party fared worse than polls had indicated and saw its worst defeat at any election during 20 years of Erdogan's rule. Soaring inflation has been the key reason for voters’ dissatisfaction with the ruling party in recent months. Moreover, the secular opposition CHP party has won major support in large cities, as compared to the more conservative Islamist line that Erdogan has been following recently, according to analysts.

Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who won a second term in office at Sunday’s election, is now seen as a key opposition leader to challenge Erdogan and a likely presidential candidate as well.

The opposition party also won the mayoral seat in the capital city of Ankara, where incumbent mayor Mansur Yavas of CHP trounced Erdogan’s party candidate to win re-election in another blow to the ruling party.

CHP also won Bursa, Turkey’s fourth-biggest city, and retained control of other large cities including Izmir and Adana, and the resort of Antalya. 

Acknowledging the election defeat, Erdogan said that the election was a “turning point” for his party. 

Erdogan, who has been Turkey’s president since 2014, said “Unfortunately, we have not obtained the results that we wanted,” adding that “We will of course respect the decision of the nation.”

Voters turned out to punish this time Erdogan’s party for the soaring inflation – at 67% annually in February – and the slowing economic growth after aggressive interest rate hikes from the central bank. 

“The economy was the decisive factor,” Hakan Akbas, a senior adviser at the Albright Stonebridge Group, told Reuters.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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