Turkish lira turns positive; Istanbul slips from Erdogan

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Since he was voted in as president in 2014, having served as prime minister since 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has progressively tightened his grip over his country's media, judiciary and institutions to a point where most believed it was impossible for him to suffer real defeat.

"[During the phone call], they have touched upon the issues on the bilateral agenda in the context of the preparations for the planned eighth session of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council to be held in Moscow on April 8", the press service stated.

The opposition won Ankara, a ruling party stronghold for decades, and was leading a tight race for mayor in Istanbul, according to unofficial figures Monday.

In Ankara, opposition mayoral candidate Mansur Yavas had 50.89 percent of votes ahead of the AKP's Mehmet Ozhaseki on 47.06 percent, Anadolu state agency reported, with 99 percent of ballot boxes counted. CHP-supported had 4,111,219 votes with 98.8 percent of ballots counted, ahead of the AK-backed candidate with 4,106,776.

Imamoglu won 4,159,650 votes while the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate and former premier Binali Yildirim garnered 4,131,761 votes in the city. It lost control of two cities where government loyal security services have been posted to the AKP. The AKP has said there were problems with many votes in both cities, and it would appeal results in every Ankara district.

But Erdogan still came out on top as the ruling party and an allied nationalist party won more than half of the votes across Turkey.

Yildirim accepted that his rival was leading but said his party would file an objection, suggesting a recount of the 319,500 votes declared void in Istanbul.

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The results, if they stand, will mark the first time the AK Party and its Islamist predecessors have lost control of Turkey's two largest cities in 25 years. Erdogan got 52.6 percent of the vote in June.

"We saw the impact of the economy in the field, because there was serious unease", one of the sources said, adding that Istanbul accounted for 40 percent of Turkey's economy, meaning that any slowdown would hit the city hard.

The country's currency crisis has tipped the economy into recession. That means that out of some 10 million ballots cast in the city, the difference was about 5,000 votes.

The AKP candidate had 48.71 per cent of the votes with the opposition at 48.65 per cent, according to Anadolu state news agency.

Instead, the merry-go-round of ballots since 2014 - three parliamentary elections, a constitutional referendum, a presidential election and now yesterday's local elections - have become more about the show than the result.

The secular, main opposition alliance, the Republican People's Party, or CHP had 30 percent.

"The (lira) market is focusing on the positive that it could have been a worse result for AKP and Erdogan has also said he will respect free markets, which would be positive if it happens", said UniCredit EM FX strategist Kiran Kowshik. The CHP supported Erdogan's role in the NATO-led proxy war in Syria and, before the AKP took power in 2002, had already while in government established a record as a party of austerity.

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