PThe party of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lost control of the capital, Ankara, in local elections, in a blow to his 16-year rule.
The main opposition is also slightly ahead in the contest for mayor of Istanbul, figures published by the state-run Anadolu news agency suggest.
But the president’s AKP party is challenging the result in both cities.
Municipal elections were held across the nation on Sunday and an AKP-led alliance won more than 51per cent of the vote.
The elections, considered a verdict on Mr Erdogan’s rule, have been taking place during an economic downturn.
The currency, the lira, has been losing value recently and the economy went into recession in the last three months of 2018.
The AKP – or Justice and Development Party – alleges “invalid votes and irregularities in most of the 12,158 polling stations in Ankara”.
Its general secretary, Fatih Sahin, said on Twitter: “We will use our legal rights to the fullest, and we will not allow the will of our citizens to be altered in Ankara.”
The AKP says it will also challenge the result in Istanbul – the largest city – and the eastern province of Igdir.
Commenting on the results in a speech on Sunday, Mr Erdogan looked ahead to national elections in 2023: “We have a long period ahead where we will carry out economic reforms without compromising on the rules of the free-market economy.
“If there are any shortcomings, it is our duty to correct them,” he said.
More than 57 million people in the country were registered to vote for mayors and councillors. Turnout was high at just under 85 per cent.
The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas won in Ankara, officials said. With almost all votes counted, he was on nearly 51per cent and the AKP’s Mehmet Ozhaseki had won the support of just over 47 per cent.
Both CHP and the AKP claim victory in Istanbul, which has been in the hands of parties linked to Mr Erdogan since 1994, when he was elected the city’s mayor.
The election commission said the CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu was leading there by less than 0.5 per cent, but that the results of more than 80 ballot boxes were being challenged. Results carried by Anadolu put the margin even narrower, at less than 0.25 per cent.