Erdogan loses support in Turkey’s big cities

ISTANBUL (AP) — The opposition candidate running to be Istanbul’s next mayor has declared victory after unofficial results showed him leading in Turkey’s local elections.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate from an alliance led by the secular Republican People’s Party, thanked all Istanbul voters on Monday.

Unofficial results by state-run Anadolu news agency said he had won 48.8 percent of the vote Sunday and his opponent, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of the ruling party, had captured 48.5 percent. One percent of the votes were still to be counted.

Parties have three days to file objections and official results are expected in the coming days.

If the opposition won in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub, that would be a watershed moment. Erdogan’s own ascent to power began in 1994 as Istanbul mayor and the city has been held by his party and allies for 25 years.