Turkey votes in local elections seen as key test of Erdoğan's rule

Turkey votes in local elections seen as key test of Erdoğan's rule

Less than a year after winning a new mandate with sweeping powers, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party are locked in tight races in some of Turkey's biggest cities in local elections on Sunday, which left two people dead.

Polling stations across Istanbul on Sunday morning had been quieter than expected, several vote monitors said.

"The prospect of Russian Federation having access to USA aircraft and technology in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country, Turkey, is a serious national and global security risk", Shaheen said.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who has served as a district mayor in Istanbul, said he hopes for a high voter turnout in Sunday's vote.

Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence personally appealed to Erdogan in a phone call to renege on a missile deal with Russian Federation in favour of an American one, Middle East Eye reported exclusively.


Erdogan appears to have also been wrong-footed by the surprise move of the pro-Kurdish HD Party's decision not to contest the main cities outside of Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast region. One of them was an election observer.

"The world has to see that one imposing its will to another is not valid anymore", he said, referring to the US warning against Turkey in the case of receiving Russian air defense systems.

Ahead of the vote, the CHP and Iyi (Good) Party formed an electoral alliance to rival that of the AKP and its nationalist MHP partners.

The HDP denies links to the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The Ottoman-era Blue Mosque and the sixth-century Byzantine monument of Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya) are seen in the old city as skyscrapers of the city's financial district stand in the background over the port of Istanbul June 1, 2007.


The opposition is wary of the state-funded but notoriously pro-Erdogan Anadolu Agency (AA) as the sole source of the vote counting with no other independent national competitor remaining in the media field due to an ongoing, years-long crackdown on privately-held and opposition-leaning networks.

The leading candidates to be Istanbul's next mayor have cast their ballots in the key race in Turkey's local elections.

Erdogan has waned at rallies that if the opposition candidate wins in Ankara, residents would "pay a price" and accused his rivals of terrorist supporters aiming to ruin Turkey. "We are certain that the creation of this committee will finally make it possible to launch the Geneva process our Western and other counterparts are talking about so much", Lavrov added.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, told Congress this month he would recommend that the United States withhold the delivery of the jet if Turkey buys the Russian system. Erdogan began his rise to power as its mayor in 1994 and said at campaign rallies that "whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey".


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