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Appeals and recounts spark frustration as Istanbul vote count enters third week

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wave flags as they listen to mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu during a gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Electoral officials ordered a second recount of votes in an east Istanbul district on Monday, after two weeks of appeals by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party against results showing it had narrowly lost control of Turkey’s largest city.

Repeated AKP challenges to the initial results have led to growing frustration among supporters of the main opposition CHP, which spilled over onto the soccer terraces at the weekend when Istanbul’s top teams played two derby matches.

“Give the mandate, give Imamoglu the mandate now,” fans of Besiktas and Fenerbahce chanted, as their teams played current league leaders Basaksehir, whom Erdogan has said he supports, and runners-up Galatasaray.

The secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who attended both matches, holds a slim lead of around 0.2 percentage points over his AK Party rival, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, according to initial results of the March 31 local elections.

The loss of Ankara ended 25 years of control over the capital by the AK Party and its Islamist predecessors. Defeat in Istanbul, where Erdogan was mayor in the 1990s, would be an even greater blow to the president who has dominated Turkish politics through a decade and half of repeated election triumphs.


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