Erdogan's AK Party challenges Istanbul local election results

Erdogan's AK Party challenges Istanbul local election results

Waving ballot records, in which he said the vote count irregularities could be seen, Senocak added: "Whichever officials did this and for whatever reason, we will closely follow the necessary legal steps".

The CHP's Ekrem Imamoglu, with 48.79 percent of the votes, has a narrow lead over AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim who has 48.51 percent for the Istanbul mayorship.

The city remained tense, with police and armoured vehicles stationed outside the Istanbul headquarters of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), which now has until 12 April to rule on the AKP's complaints.

Ankara and Istanbul have been held by the AKP and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years.

Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a majority of votes throughout Turkey in Sunday's local elections, but trailed in Istanbul, the country's economic hub, and Ankara, the capital.

In the past, Turkish opposition parties have failed to mount a successful challenge to election results.

Mansur Yavas, the candidate of the opposition alliance, won 50.9% support in Ankara.

More than 57 million people in Turkey were registered to vote for these elections.

Turkey's opposition looked poised to win control of the country's two biggest cities Monday as it dealt President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's conservative party one of its most serious electoral setbacks in years.

The loss for Erdogan's party comes a year and a half after Turkey became a presidential-style republic after a referendum, mainly owing to the President's popularity. The ruling party is also frequently accused of using state resources to campaign.

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It also retained its hold over Izmir, Turkey's third largest city, located on the Aegean Sea.

A strategic decision by the pro-Kurdish party to sit out critical races in major cities may have contributed to the secular party's increase in votes.

Imamoglu had 48.79 percent of the votes while Yildirim had 48.52 percent, Anadolu reported on Tuesday, citing preliminary results.

Bayram Senocak, AKP's Istanbul provincial head, said that his party had "plenty of" evidence showing "irregularities" in the vote, which had an impact on the outcome. Erdogan's own ascent to power began as Istanbul mayor in 1994.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory.

The renewed slip in Turkey's financial markets and uncertain policy reaction to recession raises a risk of further capital flight, Moody's said, adding that the local poll results would help determine the future path of economic policy.

Defeat for Erdogan's Islamist-rooted party in Ankara was a significant blow for the president.

Andrew Dawson, heading the Council of Europe's election observation mission, said Monday that they were "not fully convinced that Turkey now has the free and fair electoral environment which is necessary for genuinely democratic elections in line with European values and principles".

Political parties have three days to submit objections and official results are expected in the coming days.

Ozlem Cercioglu, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was elected mayor of metropolitan municipality in western Aydin province. The HDP denies links to the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).