The opposition candidate in the rerun of the mayoral race for Turkey’s largest city claimed victory on Sunday, dealing a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party.
Republican People’s Party Candidate Ekrem Imamoglu received 54 percent of the votes in Istanbul’s rerun mayoral election, besting Binali Yildirim of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, who held 45 percent of the vote with most ballots counted.
A total of 777,581 votes separated the candidates, vastly outnumbering the 13,729-vote gap between them in the initial election on March 31.
Yildirim, Turkey’s former prime minister, conceded the race on Sunday, pledging to try to help Imamoglu with “everything he will do to the benefit of Istanbulites.”
“According to the result as of now, my competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is leading the race,” he said. I congratulate him and wish him good luck.”
Erdogan praised a decision by election officials in May to hold the elections again after Imamoglu narrowly defeated Yildirim by less than 1 percent of the vote.
At the time, the Turkish president said the election was marred by irregularities and that his party had furnished proof detailing organized corruption.
Sunday’s victory for Imamoglu ends the Justice and Development Party’s 17-year rule over the city.
“Today 16 million Istanbulites have renewed our faith in democracy and our trust in justice,” Imamoglu said. “This was realized not only by those who voted for me, but al our citizens who helped us carry this election with great maturity and calm.”