Middle East Turkish opposition still claims lead in Istanbul recount

Turkish opposition still claims lead in Istanbul recount

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Ekrem Imamoglu, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate for mayor of Istanbul, embraces his supporter at his election campaign office in Istanbul, Turkey April 1, 2019.

Turkey’s main opposition candidate in Sunday’s Istanbul local elections said on Friday he remained ahead by 18,742 votes after a recount of invalid votes in 17 of the city’s 39 districts.

Late on Thursday, election officials expanded the vote recount in Istanbul, broadcaster CNN Turk said, as President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party pushed its appeal against its shock election defeat there. It was unclear how many districts would ultimately see recounts.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu said he did not expect the gap between his party and the AKP to change substantially when the recount in the country’s largest city was completed.

“From what I see, it should end this weekend. It will fall into a 18,000-20,000 range, that’s what all the simulations show. These are very tight numbers,” he said.

He said 119,652 invalid votes had been recounted, with 2,184 votes added in favor of the AKP and 785 added for the CHP.

The AK Party said it would also demand a wider check on votes across the capital Ankara, which, according to initial results, it also narrowly lost in Sunday’s nationwide municipal vote.

Those losses, if confirmed, would be particularly painful for Erdogan, whose party and its predecessor have dominated the two cities for 25 years. He launched his political career in Istanbul and served as the city’s mayor in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s High Election Board had ordered a full recount in three of Istanbul’s 39 districts and a recount of just invalid ballots in 15 districts. However, late on Thursday the board decided there would be a full recount in those 15 districts as well.

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