In local elections, ruling AKP does well, but falls short of 2007 victory margin
The Turkish people yesterday went to the ballot box around the country to elect mayors and other local leaders. Nineteen political parties competed in the local elections, and around 48 million voters cast their votes at over 177,000 polling stations. According to unofficial results, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) did well nationwide, matching its performance in the last local elections of 2004, leaving its rivals far behind with around 40 percent of the vote. But this fell short of the party's victory in the July 2007 parliamentary elections, when it captured nearly 47 percent of the vote. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the ruling party's closest rival, won around 23 percent of the national vote, while the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) won around 17 percent. The AK Party's greatest rival in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), received nearly 5 percent of the national vote and recaptured the Diyarbakir Greater Municipality. The AK Party won 10 of the 16 key greater municipalities in the country, including Ankara and Istanbul. The AK Party was challenged by the CHP in Istanbul, and by the CHP and MHP in Ankara. While the main opposition CHP attracted more votes in Istanbul, the opposition MHP saw its share of the vote in Ankara jump. The MHP also attracted more votes nationwide than in the last local elections, while the CHP held steady compared to 2004. While the CHP took the mayor seats in Antalya and Tekirdag from the AK Party, the ruling party regained the Trabzon mayor's seat, which it lost to the CHP in 2004. In the southeastern Sanliurfa Greater Municipality, an independent candidate previously affiliated with the AK Party won by a comfortable margin. When the party didn't renominate the mayor for this year's local elections, he decided to run as an independent candidate.