State broadcaster stops reporting results as opposition candidate closes gap in Istanbul

Updated with Anadolu Agency's statement

With the opposition alliance’s candidate within a single percentage point of catching his rival from the ruling party in the crucial Istanbul mayoral race, the state run broadcaster Anadolu Agency has stopped updating its reports of the vote count.

At 12:50 a.m. local time (GMT +2), the agency had not published any new data for around one-and-a-half hours.

The latest results printed by the agency, which most Turkish news agencies have used as their main source of information on Sunday’s local elections, showed that Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu had increased his share of the vote to 48.65 percent, compared to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım, who has a reported 48.71 percent.

Yet with less than 4,500 votes separating the two rivals and a significant number of ballot boxes left to count, Yıldırım declared himself victor in Istanbul, after which Anadolu Agency stopped updating.

The agency published a statement at around 01:30 a.m. saying it had stopped receiving data on the results.

"The data flow from the field to Anadolu Agency's broadcast system is not taking place. When data is received from the field or the Supreme Electoral Council, we will continue disclosing the election results to our members," the statement said.

İmamoğlu has made a series of televised appearances over the course of the night disputing Anadolu’s figures, which had him trailing by a wide margin until the latest stages of the count.

The candidate, who represents the CHP and its electoral alliance partners the centre-right Good Party, said Anadolu’s reports conflicted with data his party had received from Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council (YSK).

The CHP’s candidate, Mansur Yavaş, won a highly significant victory in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, and reports say they have the chance to win other major cities including Bursa in western Turkey. A victory in Istanbul would be another serious blow to the ruling party, which has described the local elections as a “matter of survival.”

The hashtag #Ekremİmamoğlu was at the top of the worldwide trending topics on Twitter on Sunday evening.