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In blow to Erdogan, rising Turkish political star pulls off Istanbul upset

In blow to Erdogan, rising Turkish political star pulls off Istanbul upset”

The opposition is also ahead in the contest for mayor of the largest city, Istanbul, the election commission says.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory for his Islamic-based AK Party in municipal elections, but the ruling alliance appeared to suffer setbacks in at least two key cities.

In Istanbul, former prime minister Binali Yildirim clinched a hard victory with 50 percent of votes against 48 percent for his opponent Ekrem Imamoglu, who also claimed wining the race.

Electoral board head Sadi Guven said votes were still being counted and objections taken into account.

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".

With 99 per cent of the ballot boxes counted, the joint opposition candidate for Ankara mayor was winning with 50.89 per cent of votes and the AKP on 47.06 per cent, Anadolu state agency reported citing preliminary results.

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The elections came as Turkey faces an economic crisis that has seen inflation reach 20 per cent and unemployment rise into double figures. People care about feeding their families more than events in Syria or New Zealand.

In mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey, residents celebrated as the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) won back municipalities that authorities had taken over two years ago, accusing the HDP of terrorist links.

Yesterday, voters went to the polls in municipal elections held across Turkey.

In Ankara, Turkish broadcasters said the CHP candidate had won a clear victory, but the AKP said it would appeal in districts across the city and expected to shift the outcome in its favor.

"[If] the Erdogan-led AK Party-MHP alliance loses Istanbul, along with Ankara as well, that means loss of control over five major cities in Turkey", analyst Murat Yetkin said.

Both Ankara and Istanbul were previously under the control of mayors who were members of Erdogan-affiliated conservative parties.

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She said both were conscious but didn't immediately know their condition. "The entire city of Seattle is pulling for them". Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two victims, a man and woman, were brought to the hospital.

Investors were also weighing up a statement Monday from Moody's rating agency, which said the erosion of Turkey's foreign currency reserves is a credit negative and central bank use of reserves to prop up the lira currency poses renewed questions on its transparency and independence.

Erdogan's ruling alliance, including the nationalist MHP, captured 51.7 percent of the nationwide vote with almost all votes counted, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency. Opinion polls suggested the candidate of an opposition alliance, Mansur Yavas, could end the 25-year rule of AKP and its predecessor.

"Erdogan's AKP has lost significant votes in the country's economic powerhouses", Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence in London, said in an emailed report on Monday. AKP candidate Alinur Aktas carried Bursa with 49.5 percent of 1.6 million votes cast. He said the party would work to understand and fix where they failed.

An AKP official and a source close to the party predicted a cabinet shuffle or other changes among those around Erdogan, especially given the loss in Istanbul.

Sunday's elections were a first test for Erdogan since he won re-election under a new system of government that gave the presidency expanded powers.

"History is being written in Ankara", said deputy CHP leader Haluk Koc, while thousands of supporters celebrated outside the party's headquarters in Ankara. His finance minister has already said economic reforms will be announced next week.

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