Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the ceremony at Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial in Gallipoli Peninsula to mark 104th anniversary of Canakkale Naval Victory Day in Canakkale, Turkey on March 18. Photo: AFP Forum via Andalou Agency/Ali Balikci

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) said Sunday it was calling for a recount of all ballots cast in Istanbul, the country’s commercial capital, during last week’s mayoral election after an opposition candidate claimed a narrow victory.

The AKP made the demand for a recount going beyond one already underway.

The AKP won the most votes nationwide in last Sunday’s election, but results showed the ruling party lost Ankara, the capital, and was also narrowly defeated in Istanbul in what would be one of its worst setbacks in a decade and a half in power.

“Today, we are going to take our case to the provincial branch of the YSK [supreme election board] to recount all the votes from all the [Istanbul] districts,” said AKP vice-president Ali Ihsan Yavuz.

Electoral officials are already conducting a recount in dozens of districts in Ankara and in Istanbul, where tallies showed the opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu just edged out the AKP, represented by former prime minister Binali Yildirim, who is considered a political heavyweight.

On Saturday, party spokesman Omer Celik insisted the AKP would accept recount results in Istanbul as well as Ankara, no matter which party is declared the victor.

Losing Istanbul, home to around one in five Turks, would be a significant blow to Erdogan, who built his political career as mayor of the city before becoming prime minister and later president.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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