President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on track to lose control of Turkey’s two largest cities for the first time in his 16 years in power, after voters punished him for a painful economic downturn. The opposition won the capital, Ankara, a ruling party stronghold for decades, and was leading a tight race for mayor in Istanbul. The leader who has dominated Turkish politics for 16 years
declared victory despite the opposition gains.
Local elections were widely seen as a gauge of support for Erdogan as the nation of 81 million faces a daunting economic recession with double-digit inflation, rising food prices and high unemployment. It was also a first test for Erdogan — who has been accused of increasingly authoritarian tendencies — since stepping last year into a new presidential role with widely expanded powers. More than 57 million people were eligible to vote for the mayors of 30 major cities, 51 provincial capitals and 922 districts in Turkey.