As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

PM Erdoğan took the stage with his family, including his youngest son Bilal, who was implicated in the December 17 corruption investigation, at his party's headquarters in Ankara. AA Photo

Preliminary results have started to come as votes are being counted after voting officially ended at 5 p.m. More than 50 million people went to the polls amid high participation in the elections.


Here are live updates from the polls throughout Turkey:

18:00 - As 97 percent of counted votes are now registered, according to Cihan news agency, the AKP's mayoral candidates are likely to win 49 cities/provinces, while the CHP remains at 13, the BDP at 10 and the MHP at eight. The AKP's overall vote percentage is 44.18 at present, while the CHP is at 28.65 percent. The official results announcement is expected at the earliest on April 1. Fraud and irregularity claims can be filed until 3 p.m. tomorrow. Several cities and districts are hotly-contested and still too close to call.

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

16:00 - According to Professor Erhan Karaesmen, an election expert who spoke to daily Hürriyet, the AKP would have won just over 290 seats in Parliament if it had been a general election. In order to form a one-party government, 290 seats are required in Turkish parliamentary elections. If Sunday's vote was a general rather than a local election, the CHP would win 145 seats, the MHP 75, and the BDP 30-35, according to Karaesmen.

13:29 - Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has denied rumors he will resign because of his party’s electoral performance. On the other hand, Mustafa Sarıgül, the CHP's mayoral candidate in Istanbul, has conceded defeat, but vowed to keep on fighting.

10:30 -  The ruling AKP's mayoral candidate, Menderes Türel, has won the election in Mediterranean province of Antalya, the party's city head said, adding that the AKP was ahead of the CHP by 22,700 votes.

10.22 - The CHP has appealed against the election result in Yalova, where the ruling party won the election by only one vote.

06:30 - The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for Ankara, Melih Gökçek, held a press conference early March 31 to announce his victory over Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) canditate Mansur Yavaş. the CHP appeals to the results.

01:16 -
 As counting is about to be concluded, the ruling AKP has a comfortable lead over the main opposition CHP in İstanbul, like most of the country. CHP wins a landslide victory in İzmir, while Ankara, another key battleground of the March 30 local elections, is too close to call like several other cities where the new mayors can only be announced by official results March 31. Meanwhile, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş posed for a selfie with his staff, certain of his re-election:

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

00:23 - March 31 - "Nobody should be upset. 77 million people should know that the new Turkey has won today. This is the wedding day of the new Turkey," said Erdoğan, thanking everybody who put in an effort for his party in the elections. Erdoğan took the stage with his family, including his youngest son Bilal, who was implicated in the December 17 corruption investigation.

23:53 - "The people have spoken: They said we are here. The montage politics have lost. The Status Quo has received a severe blow today. Dirty relations and tutelage have lost," Erdoğan said, declaring local poll victory.


23:51 -  “I thank everyone who prayed for our victory across the world,” said Erdoğan, after saluting the crowd for two minutes and quoting Palestinians, Egyptians and Syrians. “Of course, it is this people who deserve the biggest thanks. You have protected the independence struggle of the new Turkey. You have supported your prime minister, I thank you infinitely,” he said. He slammed those who vowed “chaos after 25 March,” when it was said that a major voice recording could be released. “It is true, this people has met the traitor to the nation that deigned to listen to the Foreign Ministry,” he said, regarding the latest leaks on Syria. "We will enter their den, and they will pay the price. How can you threaten our national security on Syria? Syria is currently in a state of war against us," he said.

23:43 - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is addressing thousands of supporters of the ruling AKP who celebrate in front of the general headquarters of the party in Ankara. 

23:27 - Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also stressed that they won a landslide victory against all odds. “People with whom we have been in very good relations until now have visited every house; they have even begged,” Arınç said, referring to Gülen's movement.

23:13 - According to semi-official Anadolu Agency, 63 percent of votes have been counted, and the AKP leads with 46.88 percent of the votes, while the CHP trails with 27.32 percent. According to private Cihan news agency, however, 54 percent of the votes are counted and the AKP leads with 43.83 percent, while the CHP trails with 27.46.

23:04 - Around 500 people who claimed that a power blackout was planned intentionally to manipulate the vote counting have surrounded a voting center in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. Police arrived on the scene with armored vehicles to prevent the crowd from storming the school where the polling station is located. Representatives of opposition parties have also come to calm down the crowd, according to Doğan News Agency:

22:48 - The CHP kept its stronghold of the western province of İzmir, while also collecting a plurality of the votes in the Thrace and western Aegean regions. In İzmir, the party was able to get more than 50 percent of the vote, initial results show, while the ruling AKP got more than 30 percent. In the Thrace region, initial results show that the CHP won most of the votes in Edirne, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ.

22:45 - The AKP has retained its strongholds in Central and Eastern Anatolia, where it holds a strong majority of conservative voters. In the central provinces of Konya, Kayseri, Sivas and Yozgat, the party collected over 50 percent of the votes, according to initial results. In the eastern province of Erzurum, the hometown of Fethullah Gülen, the self-exiled leader of the Hizmet Movement, the AKP collected over 50 percent of the votes.

22:35 -  As the counting continues, the ruling AKP has received the highest rate of votes in three cities so far: 68.30 percent in Rize, 65.20 percent in Malatya, and 65.20 percent in Konya.

22:25 -  Three women have made history after being elected to the helm of metropolitan cities for the first time on opposite sides of the country. The AKP candidate for the southeastern province of Gaziantep, Fatma Şahin, the BDP co-mayoral candidate for the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Gültan Kışanak, and the CHP candidate for the Aegean province of Aydın, Özlem Çerçioğlu, took over three metropolitan cities, representing three different parties and gaining remarkable support from voters.

22:20 - AKP Deputy Head and Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik compared the CHP leader to Joe Frazier, “who always lost his fight with Muhammed Ali."  “Cihan news agency reflects the CHP’s expectations. They have started to target Anadolu Agency because the results are not in their favor,” Çelik said.

22:15 - Eskişehir Mayor Yılmaz Büyükerşen, a CHP member, has said there are power outages in nine neighborhoods in the city center, as well as the main courthouse, negatively affecting the counting. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız denied any wrongdoing. (Click for more details)

21:35 - CHP Deputy Chair Haluk Koç: "Anadolu agency is manipulating the election results. The figures they give contradict our figures, including those we received from the High Election Council. Currently, we're leading or in a close race with the ruling AKP in all leading metropolises."

21:20 - AKP has claimed victory in Istanbul, in a statement by provincial chair Aziz Babuşçu. "According to our data, Istanbul will continue with Mayor Kadir Topbaş and the AKP," Babuşçu said, slamming the opposition for "manipulating" results. Babuşçu added that Topbaş was poised to win Istanbul with 47-50 percent of the votes.

21:15 - After his rival’s declaration of victory, Ankara's incumbent mayor Melih Gökçek, seeking a fifth term in power, has slammed “manipulations," claiming to have a 7.5 percent lead over the CHP. “The AKP is set for a historic victory,” Gökçek said.

21:11 - More anti-riot vehicles and water cannons are deployed at Taksim Square, as Doğan news agency footage shows:

21:05 - The AKP’s candidates for Istanbul and Ankara are in front with 45.27 percent and 44.48 percent respectively, according to Cihan News Agency's latest figures. They both lead by just over 1 percent after around 18 percent of votes have been counted so far in the two cities. The CHP’s Ankara candidate, Mansur Yavaş, has already declared victory in Ankara in a press conference.

20:57 - Turkey appears set for its first-ever mayor to win under the banner of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP). Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu is poised to win the district of Ovacık in the eastern province of Tunceli (Dersim) for the TKP. He has 3 percent lead over the incumbent mayor and Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) Mustafa Sarıgül.

20:45 - The main opposition CHP’s Istanbul chair, Oğuzhan Salıcı, has complained about unusual power blackouts in districts like Bakırköy while the votes were still being counted. Salıcı claimed that the CHP's mayoral candidate Mustafa Sarıgül won the election with 39.02 percent of the vote, ahead of the AKP's candidate, Kadir Topbaş, at 37.02 percent. Salıcı says that out of the 12,500 ballot boxes counted so far in Istanbul, the CHP is leading with 1,513,517 votes, while the AKP follows closely with 1,462,795 votes.

20:37 - Mansur Yavaş, CHP's mayoral candidate for Ankara, has declared victory over the incumbent mayor Melih Gökçek from the ruling AKP, claiming to have won "almost 50 percent" of the votes.

20:10 - Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mustafa Sarıgül leads the race in Istanbul, while Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Melih Gökçek is ahead in Ankara, after 10 percent of the votes have been counted. While the CHP’s vote rate in Istanbul is 45.01 percent, the AKP’s candidate Kadir Topbaş follows with 44,62 percent. Gökçek leads the race with 45.77 percent of the counted votes in Ankara, followed by the CHP’s candidate with 42.76 percent. In İzmir, with 12 percent of the votes counted, the CHP’s candidate and incumbent mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu is ahead with 52.86 percent of the counted votes, while former Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım from the AKP trails with 34.41 percent.

19:57 - The figures for initial results given by the semi-official Anadolu Agency and the private Cihan News Agency differ wildly. Anadolu reports that AKP candidate Kadir Topbaş leads in Istanbul with 50.14 percent, as 16.27 percent of votes are counted. According to Cihan, however, CHP candidate Mustafa Sarıgül leads in Istanbul with 45.53 percent, as 7.81 percent of votes are counted.

19:43 - In Istanbul, anti-riot vehicles and police water cannons have been deployed in the area around Taksim Square, presumably for potential protests.

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

19:41 - According to unofficial results, BDP's mayoral candidates have won in two southeastern provinces. Dilek Hatipoğlu (below) has become the first woman who has been elected as the mayor of Hakkari, while Mehmet Ali Bul has won the election in Tunceli.

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

19:34 - Turkey local election map as of now... (AKP: Yellow - CHP: Red - MHP: Maroon - BDP: Blue)

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

19:20 - In Istanbul, with 4.65 percent of votes counted: CHP 45.00; AKP 44.72 In Ankara, with 3,28 percent of votes counted: AKP 44.84; CHP 43.60


19:12 - Ahmet Öksüzkaya, a deputy from Kayseri province, has resigned from the ruling AKP. “I am sadly seeing that my personal views on democracy, law and consensus do correspond with my party’s policies,” Öksüzkaya said in a statement. (Click here for details)

19:06 - Four percent of votes are counted. The High Election Board (YSK) has not lift the restriction on publications and broadcasters yet.

18:30 - Ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Kayseri MP Ahmet Öksüzkaya has announced his resignation an hour after the start of the counting of votes.

18:27 - A record number of citizens are volunteered to observe the vote counting in Istanbul, a key battleground in 2014 local elections.

18:14 - Some 50-person group alleged to have been supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attacked supporters of the nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at a primary school in Keçiören district of the capital city of Ankara on March 30, daily Hürriyet reports. The attackers reportedly used clubs, sticks and knives. (Click for more details)

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

17:30 - %1 of total votes have been counted so far. According to the High Election Board's (YSK) official regulations, results are only allowed to be broadcast after 21:00. But the board is expected to lift this restriction and allow earlier announcements.

17:00 - Voting officially ends across Turkey. But citizens who are still waiting in line may continue to vote until 19:00.

16:52 – In the southern province of Adana, up to 350 suspects have been arrested while casting their votes at polling stations. The arrests were made as a result of suspect lists prepared by the Police Department and sent to the schools where they were assigned to vote.

16:26 - Many Turkish celebrities are sharing their photos through social media while voting -although Twitter and YouTube are still blocked in Turkey. Singer and songwriter Tarkan is one of them:

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

16:06 - Sırrı Süreyya Önder, the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) mayoral candidate for the Istanbul municipality, did not vote in the city he contended, but in his own Ankara constituency. When asked why he chose to vote in Ankara, hence couldn't vote for himself in Istanbul, Önder replied: "I live in Ankara and I didn't move my register to Istanbul intentionally, as I wanted to support socialist candidate Salman Kaya in Ankara against nationalist candidates."

16:00 - Voting has concluded in 32 eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey.

15:50 - Reports have emerged of ballot papers at one voting station in the eastern city of Tatvan, on the shores of lake Van, being annulled. The cancellation came after an officer reportedly stamped the outside of the ballot papers and envelopes at home, despite the fact that this final stamp must be made in front of the High Election Board’s (YSK) district officer. (Click for more details)

15:14 – A suspect who was stopped by police officers after casting his vote in Trabzon has committed suicide. The man, identified as S.K., reportedly shot himself in the head as police surrounded him after casting his ballot.

14:36 - So far, at least eight people have been killed in clashes between groups backing rival candidates.

14:29 - President Abdullah Gül, who voted in Ankara’s Çankaya primary school, acknowledged that the campaign had been particularly “rough.”

14:13 - Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, for his part, called on electors “to cast votes consulting their conscience,” after voting in Ankara.

13:32 - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose government has drawn unprecedented criticism on the eve of local elections, has voted near his home in Istanbul's Üsküdar. (For details, click "Politicians cast their votes")

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

13:08 - In another fight between muhtar (village headman) candidates in the southeastern province Şanlıurfa's Hilvan district, six people have been killed, while five were seriously injured after the Tanık and Çelik families clashed, according to Doğan News Agency.

12:46 - Two people have been killed and nine were injured in the Kırıkhan district of the southern province Hatay during a fight between two muhtar (village headman) candidates.

12:41 - Femen has staged a protest in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul's Asian side, which is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's constituency. (Click for details) (Photo: Selçuk Şamiloğlu/Hürriyet)

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

12:03 - Activist group Femen has announced that its members are ready to stage a protest, which is expected to be another naked demonstration, in one of the conservative neighborhoods of Istanbul.

11:11 - Citizens will vote using three separate envelopes. An orange envelope is being used to vote for the provincial general assemblies.  A blue envelope is being used for mayoral candidates and a purple envelope is being used for the muhtar (village or neighborhood head) candidate.

- Long lines were reported at voting centers in the early hours of the day, especially in metropolitan municipalities. Electoral participation has traditionally been high in Turkey compared to many Western countries. In the previous local elections in 2009, the participation rate was 85.19 percent. In the 2011 general elections, 83.16 percent of Turks went to the ballot box.

08:39 - A fight between two groups erupted over the elections for the muhtar in a southeastern village. In the Çiftlik village of Birecik, Şanlıurfa, two families supporting different muhtar candidates fought with clubs, knives and arms. Nine people were injured.

As it happened: PM Erdoğan declares local poll victory amid fraud claims

08:12 - The beginning of daylight saving time was postponed in Turkey because of elections this year. Clocks will be turned one hour forward tomorrow, instead of today. However, as most smartphones are changing to daylight saving time automatically, many Turks went to the ballot box before voting began. Some citizens had to wait up to one hour to vote.

08:00 - Voting has started in the western provinces of Turkey.

07:00 - Voting has started in the eastern provinces of Turkey.