Istanbul, Turkey(CNN)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.
With more than 99% of the votes counted, Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu was in the lead with about 54% of the vote, state news agency Anadolu reported on Sunday.
Imamoglu said “the whole Turkey won the election, not a group or party
Erdogan congratulated Imamoglu via his official Twitter account on Sunday, but added that his party will continue to work toward its goals “without giving up democracy, rule of law, peace, wealth and stability.”
If confirmed, the result would be a major blow for Erdogan. The long-time leader was hoping for a reversal of the original vote in March, which saw his AKP lose by a slim margin. The AKP challenged the outcome of that race, claiming fraud. In a controversial ruling, the Turkish election board canceled the result and ordered a new vote.
The March local election marked a political earthquake for Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003. AKP lost power to CHP in the country’s three largest cities: Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.
Istanbul was a particularly painful defeat for the president, as his own political career started there.
Istanbul, the country’s biggest city, has seen a huge economic boom during the early years of the Erdogan administration. As the economic crisis hit much of the Western world, foreign investors poured their money into Turkey, looking for high returns from the emerging economy.
Following a failed military coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan and his government have clamped down on civil liberties across the country, gutted public institutions and universities, heavily restricted the media and ordered mass arrests of activists, journalists and the political opposition.