The Latest: Opposition hopes make stand in Istanbul, Ankara

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station during the local elections in Istanbul, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo)
An official female shows the ballot voting paper with names and the parties a polling station during the municipal elections in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A woman cast her ballots at a polling station during the municipal elections in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo/Ali Unal)
A statue of Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is seen outside of a polling station as voters walk towards to cast they vote in Istanbul, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An official female holds a ballot voting paper at a polling station during the municipal elections in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Voters wait in the line for cast their ballots at a polling station during the local elections in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Turkish citizens have begun casting votes in municipal elections for mayors, local assembly representatives and neighborhood or village administrators that are seen as a barometer of Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn. (AP Photo/Ali Unal)

ISTANBUL — The Latest on Turkey's municipal elections (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

Voters in Turkey are electing mayors for 30 large cities, and a main battleground for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party appears to be in the capital, Ankara.

Opinion polls suggested the candidate of an opposition alliance, Mansur Yavas, could end the longtime rule of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in Ankara. A former government environment minister, Mehmet Ozhaseki, is running for mayor under the banner of Erdogan and his nationalist allies.

Another closely watched mayoral election is in Istanbul. Erdogan began his rise to power as the city's mayor in 1994 and has said at campaign rallies that "whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey."

Erdogan named former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to run against opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in the Istanbul mayor's race. The president spoke at six rallies in Istanbul on Saturday.

Erdogan has campaigned tirelessly for Justice and Development Party candidates and framed the municipal elections taking place across Turkey on Sunday as matters of "national survival."

___

7:10 a.m.

Voters in Turkey have begun casting ballots in municipal elections that are seen as a barometer of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's popularity amid a sharp economic downturn in the nation that straddles Europe and Asia.

More than 57 million voters are eligible to choose mayors, local representatives and neighborhood or village administrators. The elections are being held as Turkey faces an economic recession, rising food prices and high unemployment.

Erdogan's past electoral successes have been based on economic prosperity, but opinion polls suggest this time around his ruling party could lose control of Turkey's large cities, including Ankara, the capital.

Erdogan has campaigned heavily for his party's candidates, declaring Turkey's economic woes "an attack" on the country and framing the elections on Sunday as matter of "national survival."

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