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Turkey’s main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) claimed big election victories in the main cities of Istanbul and Ankara in nationwide local polls. The results come as a significant blow for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party (AKP) which had hoped to regain control of the major cities less than a year after he claimed a third term as president. 

As most of the votes have been counted, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and the president’s chief rival led by 10 percentage points in the mayoral race for Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city while the CHP retained Ankara and led on 15 other mayoral seats nationwide, as per a Reuters report. 

Erdogan, who was the mayor of his hometown in Istanbul in the 1990s rallied hard for his party to win the city but Imamoglu who was elected as the city chief in 2019 retained his spot. 

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The Turkish President called it a “turning spot” in a post-midnight address. 

Soaring inflation and dissatisfied Islamist voters gave Imamoglu an edge over Erdogan and the AKP as he appealed beyond the CHP’s secular base, the Reuters report added citing analysts. 

“Those who do not understand the nation’s message will eventually lose,” Imamoglu, 53, told thousands of jubilant supporters late on Sunday, some of them chanting for Erdogan to resign.

“Tonight, 16 million Istanbul citizens sent a message to both our rivals and the president,” he added. 

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Imamoglu, a former businessman, enetered the politics in 2008 and is now widely touted as a likely presidential challenger. 

Meanwhile, Erdogan said his alliance had “lost altitude” across the nation as he addressed crowds gathered at AKP headquarters in Ankara. He said he will take steps to address the message from voters. 

“If we made a mistake, we will fix it” in the years ahead, he said. “If we have anything missing, we will complete it,” he added. 

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