Hatay a rare upset for ruling AKP in tight race

Hatay a rare upset for ruling AKP in tight race

Hatay a rare upset for ruling AKP in tight race

Lütfü Savaş (R) retained his mayoral position in the Hatay Metropolitan Municipality after a close election race against the AKP candidate Sadullah Ergin.

Lütfü Savaş retained his mayoral seat in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, but this time with a different party, following a close battle in the local elections on March 30.

Savaş entered the race as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate, after his former side, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), did not field him for a second run in Hatay.

Savaş won 42.27 percent of the votes over AKP’s Sadullah Ergin, the former Justice Minister, who ended up with 39 percent.

Ergin led in the early hours of vote counting, but Savaş took over in a race that went to the wire.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate Mete Aslan was third with 15 percent of the vote.

Hatay is on the Syrian border and is the hardest-hit city of Turkey after three years of civil war in the country.

Thousands of Syrian refugees fled from the conflict zone through Hatay. It has also been widely reported that groups of Syrian rebels often flee through Hatay to safe houses in Turkey between clashes, but Ankara has denied the claims.

Dozens of civilians in Hatay have been killed in terrorist attacks or explosions in recent years.

The most deadly came on May 12, 2013 in the Reyhanlı district, where 51 people were killed in the single deadliest terrorist act ever to occur on Turkish soil. Nevertheless, the AKP managed to win in Reyhanlı, with the party’s candidate, Hüseyin Şanverdi, getting more than half of the votes.

Of the 15 districts in Hatay, the AKP won 11 local municipalities, while the CHP won three and the MHP claimed one.

The provincial municipality in Hatay was a rare sore spot for the AKP, which enjoyed another election triumph, winning almost 45 percent of overall votes.