After what was seen as a test of his popularity, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in local polls.
His Islamist-rooted AK party is on course to win between 43 and 47 percent of the vote.
The strong showing could now encourage Erdogan to contest the presidency in an August election or introduce legislation allowing him to run for a fourth term.
The opposition CHP trailed with 26 to 28 percent in an election campaign which has seen the government tighten its grip on the courts, purge thousands of police and block access to Twitter and YouTube as it tried to stem a flow of graft allegations.
Erdogan has warned his foes that they will “pay the price” for plotting his downfall.
Such was the tense build-up to the local polls that during voting there were several deaths in clashes.
In one province a gunfight between two families left six people dead and nine others wounded.
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