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Erdogan Party Leads Nationwide Vote Total, But Suffers Big Setbacks In Mayoral Races

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People voting in Ankara on March 31.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-based AK Party appears to have suffered significant setbacks in municipal elections, with his ruling alliance losing in the capital, Ankara, and possibly Istanbul.

Turkish broadcasters said on April 1 that the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas had notched a clear victory in Ankara, while Erdogan appeared to concede defeat in Istanbul even though results were so close that it remained unclear who had actually won.

"In Istanbul, the majority of the districts are either ours or we are head-to-head. What does this mean? Even if our people gave away the mayorship, they gave the districts to the AK Party," he told supporters in Ankara.

CHP said candidates it supported had 4,111,219 votes with 98.8 percent of ballots counted, ahead of the AKP-backed candidate with 4,106,776. The AKP claimed its candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, had won by some 4,000 votes.

The poll was the first municipal election since Turks gave Erdogan wide powers in 2017 by approving constitutional reforms to create an executive presidency, and many saw the vote as a test of the strength of Erdogan and the AKP.

Erdogan and his party have won every election since the party came to power in 2002.

They are facing increased opposition with the country's economy in recession, unemployment up, and inflation in double digits.

Four people were killed and dozens of others were injured in election-related violence across Turkey.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa

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