Erdogan`s AKP leads in Istanbul, Ankara in Turkish local election

Turkey votes in local polls which could deliver a blow to Erdogan

Turkey votes in local polls which could deliver a blow to Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party is leading in Sunday's municipal elections that he has depicted as a fight for Turkey's survival, and which are seen as a crucial test of the strongman's own support amid a sharp economic downturn. Opinion polls suggested the candidate of the opposition alliance, Mansur Yavas, could end the 25-year rule of AKP and its predecessor.

Turkish broadcasters said the latest count, with 98.8 percent of ballot boxes opened, showed Yildirim with a razor-thin lead having secured 4,111,219 votes against Imamoglu's 4,106,776.

Erdogan has campaigned tirelessly for AKP's candidates, portraying the country's economic woes as an attack by enemies at home and overseas, and framed the municipal elections taking place across Turkey on Sunday as matters of "national survival".

In order to increase the chances of winning the election, Erdogan's ruling AKP continued its recent electoral partnership with the ultra-nationalist MHP, together consolidating most of the right-wing votes under what they call the "People Alliance".

Erdoğan's 16 years in office have been distinguished by consistently strong economic growth, but last year's currency crisis has officially triggered a recession.

"I was actually not going to vote today, but when I saw how much they (AKP) were flailing, I thought this might be time to land them a blow".

The 63-year-old lawyer received more than 50 per cent of the votes, according to TRT.

Erdogan has blamed the country's economic woes on attacks by the West.

Turkey's main opposition candidate for mayoral elections in Istanbul said it was "very clear" that his party had won the vote in Istanbul, the country's biggest city.

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AK Party candidates are also close to declaring victory in Bitlis and Agri, where the HDP has won in previous elections.

Saadet chairman Temel Karamollaoglu said on Twitter they had been "attacked" by an AKP candidate's nephew at the polling station.

The previous local elections were held in 2014.

The President has also pointed the finger at interest rates and said if the central bank lowers them, price pressures will come down too and that Turkey would overcome its troubles following Sunday's vote.

Although half a million security personnel were on duty, voting was marred by violence across the country. He said: "In Istanbul, the majority of the districts are either ours or head-to-head".

"Turkey's regime now signals that it won't give up Istanbul, regardless of vote distribution", Timur Kuran, professor of economics and political science at Duke University, said on Twitter. Ankara views YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the CHP, told a rally in Eskisehir.

Erdogan attaches great importance to Istanbul where he began his rise to power as its mayor in 1994.

Turkey's finance minister, Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan's son-in-law, said economic reforms would be announced the week of April 8.

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