TURKEY

AK Party has clear lead over rivals, President Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday hailed the Turkish nation's high participation in the local elections. "Turkey has completed March 31 local elections with democratic maturity," Erdoğan said, while speaking at the Huber Mansion in Istanbul. Erdoğan went on to say his Justice and Development (AK) Party, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) came first on the basis of alliances, referring to their 'People's Alliance'.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday evening that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has taken a clear lead in the March 31 local elections, as over 82 percent of the ballots have been counted.

"Preliminary results show that AK Party is the first party with a clear lead, and the People's Alliance we formed with (Nationalist Movement Party) MHP has won some 52 percent of the votes," Erdoğan said late Sunday.

"AK Party is the winner by far as it has always been since Nov. 3, 2002 elections when it won for the first time," he added.

He stressed that the next elections in Turkey would be held in 2023.

He said he would deliver AK Party's "traditional balcony speech" in the capital Ankara and further evaluate the poll results there.

At 10:30 p.m., the People's Alliance had received 51 percent of the votes nationwide, with the Nation Alliance garnering 37 percent.

The country's largest city Istanbul saw the tightest local elections race in decades as the People's Alliance candidate AK Party's Binali Yıldırım was maintaining the lead at 49.10 percent over Nation Alliance candidate Republican People's Party's (CHP) Ekrem Imamoğlu's 48.30 percent with nearly 95 percent of the votes counted.

Around 57 million people were eligible to participate in Sunday's local elections, in which voters chose mayors, district mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials or village headmen), and members of elder councils. Voter turnout stood at 83.34 percent.

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