Turkey’s President Looks Headed for Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo

Turkey’s President Looks Headed for Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo

ISTANBUL — Voters in Turkey appear to have delivered a resounding rebuke to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by again electing an opposition candidate for mayor of Istanbul on Sunday, outraged that his party forced the cancellation and redo of the same vote two months ago after it lost.

Within an hour of the polling stations closing, the Turkish news media reported that with more than 60 percent of votes counted, the opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, was leading with 55 percent, compared with 44 percent for a Mr. Erdogan’s chosen candidate, Binali Yildirim.

Within two hours of the closing of polling, Mr. Yildirim went on national television and appeared to concede.

“As of now, my competitor Imamoglu is leading. I congratulate him, wish him success,” he said. “I wish our friend Ekrem Imamoglu will bring good services to Istanbul.”

The mood was tense in Istanbul during the day as people voted.

“The cancellation of the vote was completely unlawful and illegal,” said Hatice Eksioglu after casting her ballot. “I am certain that he will win, but I am afraid,” she said, referring to Mr. Erdogan.

If the opposition manages to wrest the country’s largest city from Mr. Erdogan’s control, it would be the biggest defeat of his political career, ending his party’s 25-year dominance of the city. Opponents say such a loss would crack the president’s aura of invincibility and could be the beginning of the end of his 16-year rule over the country.

Istanbul is Mr. Erdogan’s home as well as political base, where he began his political career as mayor.

Mr. Imamoglu, 49, is a former district mayor who was backed by an alliance of opposition parties, united by their rejection of Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian grip on Turkey.

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