World Media

Turkey's President Erdogan Votes in Istabul's Mayoral Election

FILE- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Ankara Turkey

A supporter of Ekrem Imamoglu candidate of the secular opposition Republican People's Party gathers outside CHP offices in Istanbul, Sunday, June 23, 2019.

The election was Istanbul's second in three months after results of an initial March vote were scrapped, setting up the do-over as a test of Turks' ability to check what many saw as their president's increasingly authoritarian power.

The main Turkish opposition party looks set to win the rerun of Istanbul's mayoral election, according to unofficial results that would deal a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if confirmed.

Istanbul, a city of more than 15 million, draws millions of tourists each year and is Turkey's commercial and cultural hub. Turkey's lira currency tumbled after the decision to annul the March vote and is down almost 10% this year in part on election jitters.

"We will try to support him in every work he will do, on behalf of Istanbulites", he added.

Turkey's electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts.

Yildirim said: "I congratulate him and wish him success".

Imamoglu narrowly won Istanbul's earlier mayor's contest on March 31, but Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, AKP, challenged the election for alleged voting irregularities.

He said the outcome of the election is not a "victory" but a "new beginning" for the city. The opposition called the decision a coup against democracy, which has raised the stakes for round two.

"Around 65% of ballots; 19,910 ballot boxes, have been officially screened in our system", Guven said.

In previous elections, the electoral board's decision to count unstamped ballots as valid fueled fears of possible fraud.

But it was a bitter loss for AKP voters, with some in tears at the party headquarters on Sunday night.

The voided vote raised concerns domestically and overseas about the state of Turkish democracy and whether Erdogan's party would accept any electoral loss.

Softly-spoken former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said "Thank You, Istanbul" in a televised victory speech tonight.

The former Turkish Prime Minister, who had received full backing from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the campaign, expressed hope that Imamoglu "would serve the city well".

The March election showed Mr Erdogan's party remains the most popular nationwide, adored by millions for overseeing dramatic growth, fiercely defending the country's interests overseas and allowing religious conservatives a seat at the table.