Turkey ruling party set to lose Istanbul election

Ekrem Imamoglu speaking on the roof of his campaign busImage copyright
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Mr Imamoglu hailed the result as a “new beginning” for the city

Turkey’s ruling party is set to lose control of Istanbul after a re-run of the mayoral election, latest results show.

The candidate for the main opposition party, Ekrem Imamoglu, has a commanding lead with more than 90% of votes counted.

He won a surprise victory in March which was annulled after the ruling AK party complained of irregularities.

The vote is being seen as a key test for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Imamoglu has won 53.6% of the vote with nearly 95% of ballots counted, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

His opponent, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, has conceded defeat. “I congratulate him and wish him good luck,” he told supporters.

Meanwhile, Mr Imamoglu said the result marked a “new beginning” for the city.

“We are opening up a new page in Istanbul,” he said. “On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love.”

Who are the candidates?

Mr Imamoglu, 49, is from the secular Republican People’s Party and is mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district.

But his name was barely known before he ran for mayor in the March election.

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Binali Yildirim is an Erdogan loyalist

Mr Yildirim was a founding member of Mr 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.

Why was the previous result annulled?

Mr Imamoglu’s narrow victory of 13,000 votes in March was not enough for Mr Yildirim to accept defeat.

The ruling party alleged that votes were stolen and many ballot box-watchers did not have official approval, leading the election board to demand a re-run of he vote.

Critics argue that pressure from President Erdogan was behind the decision.

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