Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan suffered stunning setbacks in local elections as his ruling AK Party lost control of the capital Ankara for the first time since the party’s founding in 2001. His party also lost control of the ancient city of Izmir (formerly Smyrna) and was on course to lose the biggest prize of all, Istanbul.
Turkish broadcasters said opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas had won a clear victory in Ankara. In Istanbul, the CHP was nearly 28,000 votes ahead as the last votes were being counted.
The turnout was a very high 84.52 percent nationwide, according to the state-owned Anadolu news agency.
Defeat for Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party in Ankara was seen as a significant blow to the president.
Losing Istanbul, a city three times the size of the capital Ankara, where Erdogan launched his political career and served as mayor in the 1990s, would be an even greater shock, says Reuters.
“We, as the AKP, have lost some of the municipalities,” Erdogan admitted in a speech late on Sunday.
“We will accept that we have won the hearts of our people in the places where we won, and we were not successful enough in the places where we lost, and we will decide on our action plan accordingly,” he stated.