Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party has lost control of Istanbul after a re-run of the city’s mayoral election.
With nearly all ballots counted, main opposition party candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, had a lead of 775,000 votes, a huge increase on the margin of 13,000 he achieved in the earlier election.
The March victory was annulled after the AKP alleged irregularities.
The result ends 25 years of AKP rule in Istanbul.
The AKP’s candidate, former PM Binali Yildirim, conceded to his opponent.
President Erdogan tweeted: “I congratulate Ekrem Imamoglu who has won the election based on preliminary results.”
The president had previously said that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”. He has ruled the country since 2003 both as prime minister and now president, becoming the most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.
In his victory speech, Ekrem Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the result marked a “new beginning” for both Istanbul and Turkey. He said his supporters had “fixed democracy”.
“We are opening up a new page in Istanbul,” he added.
“On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love.”
Ekrem Imamoglu added that he was willing to work with President Erdogan, saying: “Mr. President, I am ready to work in harmony with you.”
With 99% of votes counted, Ekrem Imamoglu had 54% of the vote and Binali Yildirim 45%.
Ekrem Imamoglu is the mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district but his name was barely known before he ran in the March election.
Binali Yildirim was a founding member of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and was prime minister from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey became a presidential democracy and the role ceased to exist.
He was elected Speaker of the new parliament in February and before that served as minister of transportation and communication.
Ekrem Imamoglu’s victory of 13,000 votes in March was not enough for Binali Yildirim to accept defeat.
The AK Party alleged that votes were stolen and many ballot box observers did not have official approval, leading the election board to demand a re-run of the vote.
Critics argue that pressure from President Erdogan was behind the decision.
Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city, with a population of 15 million, not far short of a fifth of the country’s 80 million, and is also the nation’s business hub.
Local currency, the lira, down 10% this year, rose on news of the result.
Istanbul is also close to President Erdogan’s heart – his political career rose there as his AKP took power in the city a quarter of a century ago and he himself served as mayor from 1994 to 1998.
The city accounts for just short of a third of Turkey’s GDP. It has a $4 billion municipal budget which spawns lucrative contacts. The AKP has now lost control of it.
Part of Ekrem Imamoglu’s campaign was to allege the squandering of public money by the AKP.
Although less conservative as a whole than the AKP’s rural heartland, Istanbul still has conservative districts such as Fatih, but Ekrem Imamoglu also won there and in President Erdogan’s own childhood district of Beyoglu.
Turkey’s capital, Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir are all now in opposition hands.
Commenting on the results in a speech on March 31, President Erdogan looked ahead to national elections in 2023: “We have a long period ahead where we will carry out economic reforms without compromising on the rules of the free-market economy.
“If there are any shortcomings, it is our duty to correct them.”
More than 57 million voters were registered to vote for mayors and councilors. Turnout was high at just under 85%.
According to officials, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas won in Ankara. With almost all votes counted, he was on nearly 51% and the AKP’s Mehmet Ozhaseki had won the support of just over 47%.
Both CHP and the AKP claim victory in Istanbul, which has been in the hands of parties linked to President Erdogan since 1994, when he was elected the city’s mayor.
The election commission said the CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu was leading there by less than 0.5%, but that the results of more than 80 ballot boxes were being challenged. Results carried by Anadolu news agency put the margin even narrower, at less than 0.25%.
The AKP had been saying its candidate, former PM Binali Yildirim, was ahead by 4,000 votes. He later conceded his opponent had a narrow lead, only for the AKP to again claim victory.
The third largest city, Izmir, went to the CHP.
This was the first municipal vote since Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed sweeping executive powers through last year’s presidential election.
The AKP, with its roots in political Islam, has won every election since coming to power in 2002.
President Erdogan, whose two-month campaign included 100 rallies, said the poll was about the “survival” of the country and his party.
With most media either pro-government or controlled by President Erdogan’s supporters, critics believe opposition parties campaigned at a disadvantage. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rallies dominated TV coverage.
The opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the elections were unfair and refused to put forward candidates in several cities.
Some of the HDP’s leaders have been jailed on terrorism charges, accusations they reject.
Tens of thousands of Turks have joined a pro-democracy rally in Istanbul, condemning Turkey’s failed coup and defending the republic.
The rally was organized by the opposition party CHP (Republican People’s Party) but was backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party (Justice and Development Party), in a rare show of unity.
CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said “democracy won!” but he also warned against the dangers of authoritarianism.
One banner read: “No to the coup, no to dictatorship”.
Many of the CHP supporters gathered in Taksim Square waved flags with a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
Despite Turkey’s political divisions, Istanbul’s mayor and other AK party leaders joined the opposition demonstrators.
Posters at the rally proclaimed “No to coups”.
In his speech, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that amid the turmoil, “the parliament stood proudly, Turkey stood proudly, lawmakers stood proudly, people in this square have stood proudly, and democracy won!”
However, Kemal Kilicdaroglu also stressed the importance of a free press and freedom of assembly, as well as the dangers of dictatorship and authoritarianism.
The CHP leader said: “The state cannot be governed by grudge, anger and prejudice. Those responsible for the coup should be tried lawfully, with the understanding of abiding by the rule of law.”
In a rare move, pro-government TV channels broadcast the speech live.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of judges, government officials, school teachers and university heads.
Human Rights group Amnesty International said it had received credible evidence of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the coup attempt.
Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen in a statement: “It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”
A state of emergency was declared on July 20, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.
Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak has been reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup have now been released.
Those released were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.
On July 23, Turkey’s presidential guard regiment was disbanded after nearly 300 of its members were detained following the failed coup.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged political parties to “leave egos aside” and form a government as soon as possible.
It is the first time President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken publicly since his ruling AKP lost its parliamentary majority on June 7.
Speaking in the capital Ankara, the president said all sides must respect the election outcome “as the will of the people”.
The AKP is now likely to try to form a coalition, but no party has indicated it is willing to join forces with it.
Breaking his silence at a graduation ceremony for international students, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that history would judge anyone who left Turkey in political limbo.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We cannot leave Turkey without a government, without a head.”
He added that he hoped political parties would “prefer solution rather than crisis”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would do his part in finding a solution and that nobody should doubt he will carry out his duties within the constitution.
The AKP secured 41% of the vote in Sunday’s election, a sharp drop compared to the 2011 vote.
The party has 45 days after the final official election results are declared to form a government – but that declaration is yet to happen.
If no coalition deal is reached, a fragile minority government and early elections loom.
Earlier, PM Ahmet Davutoglu said the AKP was open to all options but warned that history had shown coalition governments were not suitable for Turkey.
“We’ve used the coalition eras of the 1970s and 1990s as an example to show that coalitions are not suitable for Turkey and we still stand by that stance,” Ahmet Davutoglu told a meeting of AKP officials.
He added that in the “current political picture” the AKP were “the only party that can come up with realistic solutions”.
Ahmet Davutoglu resigned earlier this week after the AK Party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked him to stay on until a new government is formed.
Securing a working coalition will be tough, with opposition parties likely to demand limits on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s role.
In the build up to the election, the president had been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
However, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) upset Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions by crossing the 10% threshold and securing seats in parliament for the first time.
On June 11, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas said his party was open to working with other opposition parties but ruled out forming a coalition with the AKP.
“Pulling Turkey into early election debates right away will not help. We believe Turkey has to continue on its way by forming a coalition,” he told reporters in Ankara.
Selahattin Demirtas also said that the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, was ready to make a call for disarmament and that a peace process with the militants should soon move forward.
He said the HDP, which has played a central role in peace talks, had visited Abdullah Ocalan on the island prison of Imrali and would be applying to make another visit soon.
The peace process with Abdullah Ocalan was launched by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012 in a bid to end a three-decade conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party AKP appears on course to lose its parliamentary majority after today’s general elections in Turkey, early projections suggest.
According to Turkish exit polls, the pro-Kurdish HDP is set to cross the 10% threshold, securing seats for the first time.
With 90% of the vote counted, the AKP had 42% of the vote, according to Turkish TV stations.
If confirmed, the result would end the AKP’s 13-year single-party rule, and upset President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to boost his office’s powers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, has been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
According to the TV projections, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s share of the vote would translate into 263 seats in the 550-seat parliament, followed by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) would get 11.6% – 75 seats.
An unnamed AKP official told Reuters news agency: “We expect a minority government and early election.”
Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu also said: “The people’s decision is the most correct decision.”
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas complained as he voted that the election campaign “was not a fair and equal race”. Four people died in an explosion at a party rally on June 5.
Selahattin Demirtas added: “Hopefully we will wake up to a new and freer Turkey on June 8.”
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the CHP, echoed Selahattin Demirtas and called the campaign period “unequal”. He promised however to “continue to work with a sense of responsibility”.
The result may have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.
Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.
Turkey is voting in a general election which will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, AKP, can change the constitution.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, is seeking a big enough majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.
However, the pro-Kurdish HDP may cross the 10% threshold and enter parliament.
Explosions at its election rally in Diyarbakir on June 5 killed four.
Officials said the blasts were caused by improvised bombs.
HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas criticized Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the killings.
If the left-wing HDP succeeds in winning seats in parliament for the first time, it would reduce the number of seats won by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP, thwarting its plans to change the constitution and transfer the prime minister’s executive powers to the president.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister until he won the presidential election in 2014.
A strong showing by the HDP might well deprive the ruling AKP of a parliamentary majority.
Sunday’s election is the biggest electoral challenge for the AKP since it came to power 13 years ago.
The result may also have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.
Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.
A Turkish teenager has been arrested on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to local media.
The 16-year-old high-school student was arrested on December 24 after criticizing Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party during a speech at a student protest in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
The boy could face up to 4 years in prison if found guilty.
PM Ahmet Davutoglu defended the arrest, saying the presidential office “needs to be shown respect”.
Turkey’s penal code makes it a crime to insult the president.
The student’s speech, given to commemorate the killing of a Turkish soldier by Islamists in the 1920s, was recorded on video and broadcast by Dogan News Agency.
In it, he defends secularism and the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.
The student also singled out Recep Tayyip Erdogan for criticism over recent corruption allegations, as the crowd chanted “everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption”.
Hurriyet newspaper said the boy was believed to be a member of a leftist organization, but he denies having links with any political party.
Speaking to prosecutors, the student said: “I’ve made the statement in question. I have no intent to insult.”
The teenager has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have lodged an appeal against the charges.
The arrest sparked fierce criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Attila Kart, a member of opposition party CHP, saying the president was creating “an environment of fear, oppression and threat”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was elected president in August after serving as prime minister for 11 years, has faced several corruption allegations in recent years.
He insists they are baseless and part of a “dark plot” to oust him from power by influential cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US.
Earlier this month, police arrested more than 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to the Gulen movement.
A Turkish court has also issued an arrest warrant for Fethullah Gulen himself, but correspondents say it is considered to be largely symbolic and unlikely to be acted upon.
Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for protests across the country to end immediately.
At Istanbul airport Recep Tayyip Erdogan told crowds of supporters who were welcoming him home from a four-day North Africa tour that the protests bordered on illegality.
As he spoke, thousands of anti-government protesters were also rallying in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
The unrest began as a local protest over a park in Istanbul but spiraled into nationwide demonstrations.
An estimated 10,000 supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party descended on the airport to welcome him home in the early hours of Friday.
Standing alongside his wife and government ministers on an open-top bus, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the crowd: “These protests that are bordering on illegality must come to an end as of now.”
At times Recep Tayyip Erdogan was almost drowned out by the cheering and chanting of his supporters.
“We have never been for building tension and polarization, but we cannot applaud brutality,” he said.
Some of his supporters chanted: “Let us go, let’s crush Taksim.”
However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged them to “go home” peacefully.
“You have remained calm, mature and showed common sense,” he said.
“We’re all going to go home from here.”
Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for protests across the country to end immediately
Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to calls for his resignation by referring to his election victory in 2011 when he took 50% of the vote.
“They say I am the prime minister of only 50%. It’s not true. We have served the whole of the 76 million from the east to the west,” he told the crowd.
It was the first major show of support for Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a week of protests in which his opponents have called for him to resign.
The divisions in Turkey look set to deepen in the days ahead and could be very dangerous indeed.
The original sit-in at Gezi Park last Friday spiraled into mass protests after police cracked down on activists defending the green space near Taksim Square from developers.
Correspondents in Taksim Square say the atmosphere is good-natured, with protesters dancing and chanting political slogans.
Many are part of a secular, well-educated middle class which feels that Turkey lacks a proper, free political culture.
One protester in the square, named as Deniz, told reporters: “He [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] cannot take the park, there is no way. You know what? He will cause a war inside the country. We will keep resisting.”
Protesters accuse Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose conservative Islamic values on a secular state.
His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has governed Turkey since 2002.
Speaking in Tunis earlier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged that police had used “excessive force” against activists at the original sit-in. But he said that a small group was now manipulating what had started as an environmental protest.
“Among the protesters there are extremists, some of them implicated in terrorism,” he told reporters.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also defended the urban development plan for Gezi Park.
Turkey’s stock market dropped nearly 5% after his remarks.
Amid growing international concern at the unrest, the US has urged Turkish officials to refrain from “unhelpful rhetoric” and France has condemned the heavy-handed police response.
Four people, including a police officer, are reported to have died since the protests began, with thousands more hurt and hundreds arrested.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler has said that more than 500 police officers are among the injured.
The protests come as Turkey prepares to host an international conference focused on its relations with the EU on Friday.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to make the opening speech at the event.
Negotiations with the EU have stalled in recent years amid concerns over Turkey’s freedom of speech, treatment of religious minorities, women’s and children’s rights, civilian control of the military and long-running tensions over Cyprus.