Erdogan’s AK Party calls for rerun of Istanbul elections


16 April 2019| 10 Shabaan 1440| Middle East Monitor

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party formally requested on Tuesday an annulment and rerun of Istanbul’s municipal elections over what it said were irregularities, prompting the main opposition to accuse it of damaging democracy.

Initial results from the March 31 vote showed the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) narrowly won control of Turkey’s largest city, thereby ending 25 years of control of a key power centre by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.

The loss of Istanbul, Turkey’s financial hub, would be a blow to Erdogan, who campaigned hard ahead of the vote. The post-vote uncertainty has kept financial markets on edge and contributed to a nearly 5 per cent slide in the lira.

In the 16 days since the election, the AKP has filed numerous appeals for vote recounts across Istanbul, a city of more than 15 million people. The High Election Board (YSK) has approved some of those objections, ordering partial or full recounts in several districts. Some are still underway.

Submitting his party’s appeal for the annulment and renewal of the vote to the YSK on Tuesday, AKP Deputy Chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz said thousands of votes had been impacted by the irregularities.

“There is clearly organised unlawfulness, an election fraud here. The only authority that can end this controversy is the YSK,” Yavuz told reporters in the capital Ankara.

The AKP has already lost control of Ankara and other key cities. Defeat in Istanbul, where Erdogan was mayor in the 1990s, would be an even greater setback to the president.

The AKP urged electoral officials to block the YSK from giving CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu his mayoral mandate after the Istanbul recounts are completed and a final result emerges.

CHP spokesman Faik Oztrak branded the AKP appeal for renewed elections as a “plot” and called on the YSK to mandate Imamoglu as the elected mayor of the city.

“The authority that will put a stop to this exploitation, who will hand the right the people gave to the person who earned it is the High Election Board,” Oztrak told reporters.

“If there are security and predictability of the law in this country, then the YSK’s decision should already be clear.”