AK Party has clear lead over rivals, Erdoğan says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 31.03.2019 22:20
Updated 01.04.2019 01:35
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine greet supporters in Ankara, Turkey on April 1, 2019. (Reuters Photo)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine greet supporters in Ankara, Turkey on April 1, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

The momentum that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has built since 2002 did not wane on Sunday, as the People's Alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) declared victory in the local polls, taking 51.9 percent of the overall votes.

"The results show that we again turned out to be the leading party with major outpointing," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after the election results were revealed.

"Preliminary results show that AK Party is the first party with a clear lead, and the People's Alliance we formed with MHP has won some 52 percent of the votes," Erdoğan added.

"We have won 778 municipalities in total, including 16 metropolitan municipalities, which means 56 percent of all municipalities in Turkey will be governed by the AK Party," Erdoğan said later Sunday night. He said together with the People's Alliance, they won 24 races for province centers, 538 district races and 200 township races.

Expressing his gratitude to the People's Alliance and his partner MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, Erdoğan said that they will "continue to work for our country to make it a peaceful place."

"It's been a long, tiring journey but we still have lots of things to do," the president underlined.

At midnight on Sunday, with 91 percent of the ballotsvotes counted, the People's Alliance had received 51.74 percent of the votes nationwide, with the Nation Alliance garnering 37.64 percent.

The country's largest city Istanbul saw the tightest local elections race in decades as the People's Alliance candidate AK Party's Binali Yıldırım was maintaining a narrow lead at 48.71 percent over Nation Alliance candidate Republican People's Party's (CHP) Ekrem Imamoğlu's 48.65 percent with nearly 99 percent of the votes counted.

Around 57 million people were eligible to participate in the municipal elections, in which voters were electing mayors, district mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials or village headmen), and members of elder councils. Voter turnout stood at 83.60 percent compared to 89 percent in the 2014 local elections.

More than 44 million citizens voted at 142,777 polling places in 30 of Turkey's biggest cities, called metropolitan municipalities. 12.8 million people voted at 51,851 polling stations across 51 provinces in Turkey.

Within the People's Alliance, the AK Party received 45.35 percent of the votes while MHP received 6.55 percent of the vote.

Its rival, the Nation Alliance that was formed between the main opposition CHP and the Good Party (IP), received 37.57 percent of the overall vote.

As a result of the elections, the AK Party took the lead in 16 metropolitan municipalities and 24 other provinces. In 2014, the AK Party won the local elections in 18 metropolitan municipalities and 30 other provinces.

"We had some wins, we had some loses," Erdoğan said during his speech, adding that every win and loss is part of democracy.

Two of the critical provinces where the AK Party lost were the capital Ankara and the third largest city Izmir. In Ankara, the Nation Alliance's candidate Mansur Yavaş received 50.35 percent of the votes to win against People's Alliance candidate Mehmet Özhaseki. Yavaş's victory ended the long-running AK Party rule in the capital.

In the 2014 local elections, the CHP transferred the former district mayor of Ankara's Beypazarı, Yavaş, from MHP, and nominated him against then-Ankara mayor Melih Gökçek, who had been in office since 1994. However, Yavaş lost to Gökçek, who garnered 44.8 percent of the votes in a fierce competition. The CHP candidate secured 43.8 percent of the votes.

Another lost province for the People's Alliance was Izmir, which was not a surprise since it has long been a CHP stronghold. In Izmir, the Nation Alliance's candidate Tunç Soyer won against the People's Alliance's Nihat Zeybekci by receiving 58.04 percent of the votes.

The MHP took the lead in one metropolitan municipality and 11 other provinces. In 2014, the MHP had won the local elections in three metropolitan municipalities and five other provinces.

CHP took the lead in 10 metropolitan municipalities and 10 other provinces. In 2014, CHP won the local elections in six metropolitan municipalities and eight other provinces.

Twelve parties competed in local polls

Voters living in Turkey's larger cities voted to elect a mayor for the entire city, as well as district mayors, city council members, mukhtars, and members of elder councils. The voters chose from 12 political parties competing in the local elections.

Under the banner of the People's Alliance, AK Party and MHP supported each other in all 30 metropolitan provinces. AK Party supported MHP candidates in Adana, Manisa and Mersin; while MHP supported AK Party candidates in 27 metropolitan municipalities.

In addition to metropolitan municipalities, two political parties also raced together in 21 other provinces. MHP supported the AK Party candidates in Rize, Ağrı, Artvin, Bilecik, Bitlis, Bolu, Burdur, Çanakkale, Edirne, Giresun, Hakkari, Muş, Siirt, Sinop, Şırnak, Ardahan and Yalova; while AK Party supported the MHP candidates in Iğdır, Kars, Kırklareli and Osmaniye.

Under the banner of the Nation Alliance, CHP and IP supported each other in 24 metropolitan provinces. IP supported the CHP candidates in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Aydın, Bursa, Eskişehir, Hatay, Istanbul, İzmir, Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Muğla, Ordu and Tekirdağ; while, CHP supported the IP candidates in Balıkesir, Denizli, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun and Trabzon.

The two parties decided to attend the elections with their own candidates in Mersin, Mardin, Van and Erzurum. However, IP could not nominate a mayor candidate in Mersin and decided to support the Democrat Party (DP) candidate Ayfer Yılmaz. Also, IP did not have a mayor candidate in Diyarbakır and did not join any alliance in the province. In Şanlıurfa, neither party nominated any mayor candidate.

In addition to metropolitan municipalities, CHP and IP also raced together in 27 other provinces. IP supported the CHP candidates in Artvin, Bartın, Bilecik, Bolu, Burdur, Çanakkale, Edirne, Erzincan, Giresun, Kastamonu, Kırklareli, Kırşehir, Sinop, Tunceli, Yalova and Zonguldak; while CHP supported the IP candidates in Afyonkarahisar, Aksaray, Düzce, Elazığ, Isparta, Kilis, Kırıkkale, Nevşehir, Osmaniye, Tokat and Yozgat.

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) took the lead in three metropolitan municipalities and four other provinces. In 2014, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the predecessor of HDP, had won the local elections in two metropolitan municipalities and eight other provinces.

Also taking part were the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), the Grand Unity Party (BBP), the Democrat Party (DP), the Democratic Left Party (DSP), the Saadet (Felicity) Party, and the Patriotic (Vatan) Party.

Voting ended at 4 p.m. in Turkey's eastern regions, covering 32 provinces, while citizens living in the other regions of the country continued voting for another hour.

Mobile ballot boxes were brought to the homes of the sick and the elderly who were unable to get out and vote at designated polling stations.

Turkey held its first local elections under the new presidential system, adopted in the April 2017 referendum. The previous local elections were held in 2014.

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