In a blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an opposition candidate declared victory in the Istanbul mayor's race for a second time Sunday after the government-backed candidate conceded defeat in a high-stakes repeat election, the AP reports. "Thank you, Istanbul," former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said in a televised speech. His supporters were jubilant after unofficial results showed he won a clear majority of the vote. His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after early returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54% to 45%. The outcome means Turkey's largest city won't be governed by Erdogan's party or its predecessor for the first time in 25 years.
Hundreds of opposition supporters erupted in mass celebration outside the headquarters of the Republican People's Party, which backed Imamoglu, chanting "Mayor again! Mayor again!" Imamoglu narrowly won a previous mayoral election on March 31, but Erdogan's Justice and Development Party challenged the vote. Turkey's electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts. Imamoglu served 18 days as mayor and was stripped of the post with the board's order for a another election. "You have protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey with the whole world watching," Imamoglu, his voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, told supporters. The New York Times is calling it "the biggest defeat" of Erdogan's political career.
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