Turkey's opposition candidate is leading amid hotly contested municipal elections in Istanbul

By Jean César and Burgo Caracas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party is ahead of his rival in local elections on Sunday that will bolster Turkish opposition efforts. Politics as a force.

In another blow to Erdogan, Ankara's current mayor, Mansur Yavas, announced his victory over his rival from the Justice and Development Party less than three hours after voting closed in nationwide municipal elections.

Municipal elections held across Turkey are seen by analysts as a move in favor of Erdogan and a demonstration of the strength of opposition parties.

Erdogan, who has led Turkey for more than two decades, orchestrated strong election campaigns in support of his party to recapture Istanbul from his rival, current mayor and future presidential contender Imamoglu.

Violence broke out in some cities in eastern Turkey over elections for district officials, amid reports that three people were killed.

Official results based on 41.43 percent of ballot boxes counted showed Imamoglu with 50 percent of voters, compared to 41.26 percent for his opponent from the Justice and Development Party, Murat Kurum, a former minister in Erdogan's government.

“Based on the data we have collected, I can say that the support and trust our citizens have in us has already appeared,” Imamoglu said.

He added, “The current film has made us very happy.

The state-run Anadolu Agency released official results from some ballot box counts, showing the lead of the opposition Republican People's Party in major cities such as Izmir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana.

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Imamoglu won the 2019 election, dealing Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party the biggest electoral blow of his two-decade rule.

The results of the vote count at some ballot boxes showed the Republican People's Party leading the country with about 39 percent of the vote, the first time it has reached this percentage in 35 years.

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