Turkish lira slides after vote; Istanbul slips from Erdogan

by Ben Pena April 2, 2019, 1:02
Turkish lira slides after vote; Istanbul slips from Erdogan

The opposition CHP party candidate for Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, was leading by almost 28,000 votes with most ballot boxes counted, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Guven said.

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The opposition also retained its hold over Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city.

"The aim behind the increasing attacks toward our country ahead of the elections is to block the road of the big, strong Turkey", Erdogan said on Saturday.

"This is what the AKP voter said: 'Yes there are serious economic problems but Erdogan is the person who can solve them"'.

The HDP is alleging electoral fraud in one such city, Sirnak, which it carried in the last election with 59.6 percent of the vote, but lost this time to the AKP, which won 61.9 percent of the vote.

Supporters of opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) celebrate after early results of the local election in Ankara.

Erdogan campaigned hard portraying the vote for mayors and district councils as a fight for the nation's survival, but the election became a test of AKP's support after an economic slowdown hit Turkey.

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Imamoglu said in a later press conference that he won the race by more than 29,000 votes.

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.

Both Ankara and Istanbul have been held by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and its Islamic-oriented predecessor for 25 years.

Much of the AKP's success has been down to Erdogan's perceived economic prowess, but days before the vote, the Turkish lira was sliding again, provoking memories of the 2018 currency crisis that badly hurt Turkish households.

Erdogan pledged that Turkey would now focus on its troubled economy in the run-up to national elections in 2023. The opposing camp led by the Republican People's Party, or CHP, had 37.6 percent, Anadolu reported.

Erdogan has also indicated that he is planning to intensify military operations targeting Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria, where the Turkish bourgeoisie fears that US-backed Kurdish militias could set up an independent Kurdish state and win support from Kurds inside Turkey itself. "We want to cooperate with all institutions of Turkey to quickly meet the needs of Istanbul".

Speaking from the balcony of party headquarters in Ankara early Monday, where he has for years declared victory, Erdogan said he and his allies had come out first. In addition to Ankara, Mediterranean tourism hub Antalya, coastal province Adana and port hub Mersin looked headed for opposition control, with candidates allied to the CHP defeating incumbent mayors from one of two parties in Erdogan's alliance.

They failed to capitalize on mounting discontent with the economic crisis in Turkey, which has seen inflation skyrocket and unemployment rise to 13.5 percent (nearly 25 percent among youth), and on deep-rooted opposition in Turkey to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and imperialist wars.

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