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Erdogan's ruling party suffers losses in Turkey's 3 largest cities

By Clyde Hughes
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party is hoping to win local elections in Istanbul. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/9126239bfe2addbbfaef86b3fc9ef67f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party is hoping to win local elections in Istanbul. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

April 2 (UPI) -- The power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party is being questioned after election results in the nation's three largest cities -- two of which the party has lost after two decades of rule.

Erdogan's party has lost races in the capital Ankara and Izmir. Results are still too close to call in Istanbul. Candidates of the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, won the races in Ankara and Izmir.

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In Istanbul, CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu holds a slight lead -- 48.8 percent to 48.5 percent -- over Binali Yildirim. Both parties have filed complaints about disputed ballots and both have declared victory.

"There are 31,136 ballot boxes [in Istanbul]. If there is one invalid vote in each ballot box, it makes 31,136 votes in total, which is more than the difference," Yildirim said, explaining his possible path to victory in Istanbul.

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CHP Parliament member Sezgin Tanrikulu said his party will wait for the three-day ballot objection period to end before commenting. Sadi Guven, chairman of the country's Supreme Election Board, said Tuesday votes have not yet been certified and the board will accept objections until mid-Tuesday. The district election boards will have two days the make a ruling and provincial election boards one day, he said. The boards will have three days to present their totals.

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Turkey is in the midst of its first recession in decades and Erdogan has blamed the country's economic downturn on foreign intervention. The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey last year, but they were lifted after accused U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson was released from a Turkish prison.

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