Turkey’s opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the do-over election in Istanbul, according to unofficial results. With total of 99.37% of ballots counted, Imamoglu won 54.03% of the votes, while ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's candidate Binali Yildirim received 45.09%. Having a lead of 777,581 votes, according to the unofficial results, Imamoglu secured over 4.7 million votes, while his rival Yildirim bagged nearly 4 million votes. In a victory speech, Imamoglu thanked Istanbulites for “protecting Turkey's century-old democratic tradition.”
“You protected the dignity of Turkey’s democracy in front of the whole world,” the CHP candidate said.
He said the outcome of the election is not a “victory” but a “new beginning” for the city.
Earlier, Yildirim congratulated Imamoglu after preliminary results showed latter leading the race.
“We will try to support him in every work he will do, on behalf of Istanbulites,” he added.
Erdogan congratulates Imamoglu
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Imamoglu as unofficial results suggested a convincing win for the CHP candidate.
"The national will has appeared once again today. I congratulate Ekrem Imamoglu, who has won the election, according to unofficial results," Erdogan said in a Twitter post.
Meanwhile, Sadi Guven, head of the Supreme Election Council, said the official results of the Istanbul do-over election will be announced soon.
"Around 65% of ballots; 19,910 ballot boxes have been officially screened in our system," Guven said.
"10,560,963 voters cast their votes in 31,342 ballot boxes including the ones in prisons and portable ballot boxes," he said.
He said the council will issue the certificate of election to the deserving candidate, following completion of the appeal process.
Imamoglu and Yildirim vied to run the metropolitan municipality of Turkey's most populous city after a previous vote on March 31 was annulled by the country's top election council last month.
Embracing all people
Later in an address in Istanbul's Beylikduzu district, where he had been a mayor before he ran for Istanbul, Imamoglu said he would embrace people from all walks of life.
"There will be no such concept like minority in this city. We will embrace Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and everyone in this city," said Imamoglu. "We will build democracy and justice in this city. I promise you we will build the future in this beautiful city."
The mayor-elect also thanked ruling party's candidate Yildirim and President Erdogan over their congratulatory messages.
Imamoglu vowed to end partisanship.
"We will work a lot for Istanbul starting tomorrow," he added.