April 1, 2019 - 11:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey’s main opposition party appeared poised to win mayoral races in Ankara, the capital, and several other cities in local elections on Sunday, March 31, dealing a significant setback to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he campaigned relentlessly for his party’s candidates but faced a voter backlash over his management of the economy, The Washington Post reports.
Erdogan’s ruling party claimed victory Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, even as official tallies showed a razor-thin margin in the contest. (Later on Sunday, though, Erdogan appeared to suggest that his party may have lost Istanbul’s mayoral race.) Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said its candidate was ahead as he urged supporters to stay at the polls.
Erdogan, speaking to reporters on Sunday night, said his Justice and Development Party and an allied party had captured the majority of votes in the nationwide contest — a continuation, he said, of his party’s electoral dominance since 2002. At the same time, he appeared to acknowledge the symbolic weight of the losses in Ankara and other cities.
“We will accept that we were not successful in the places that we lost,” he said.
Later, speaking in Ankara, he said, “Tomorrow morning, we will start our work to detect our shortcomings.”
The election for mayors, municipal council members and other local posts represented the first nationwide referendum on Erdogan’s leadership since he won a presidential poll in June. Since then, Turkey’s economy has slipped into a recession for the first time in a decade, forcing the government to defend policies that have unnerved investors and sent prices soaring.