AKP to seek rerun of Istanbul election - GulfToday

AKP to seek rerun of Istanbul election

Erdogan-and-Evo-Morales

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales review a guard of honour in Ankara on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party on Tuesday said it will seek a re-run of Istanbul’s disputed mayoral election after the ruling party lost and authorities rejected its demand for a full recount.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed citing irregularities after its Istanbul candidate was narrowly defeated last week in what would be a major setback after a decade and a half in power.

Erdogan’s party also lost the capital Ankara.

The Turkish leader on Monday had questioned the Istanbul election results and hinted at a rerun because he said the vote was marred by ballot box theft.

AKP’s deputy chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz told reporters in Ankara that the party would push for a rerun: “We will take the path of extraordinary appeal. We will say that we want the election in Istanbul to be repeated.”

Officials at the Supreme Electoral Council, known by its Turkish initials YSK, will decide whether the ruling party has a case.

Yavuz on Twitter denied local media reports that the AKP had already filed a demand for the re-run as “untrue,” saying the party was considering the extraordinary appeal in the days ahead.

The AKP won most votes nationwide in the March 31 vote, but voters appeared to punish the ruling party in the two mayor cities partly because of an economic slowdown that followed Turkey’s currency crisis last year.

Both opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu and the AKP’s Binali Yildirim claimed victory soon after preliminary tallies showed them in a dead heat. Election officials later said Imamoglu was ahead but the gap has narrowed to around 15,000 votes after recounting of void ballots this week.

Both won around four million votes in the election for Istanbul, the country’s biggest city and economic hub. Imamoglu, a little-known mayor of one of Istanbul’s districts who ran a low-key campaign, has already declared himself Istanbul mayor. He urged electoral authorities to make the “right decision” and asked the AKP to accept the result.

“Istanbul urgently needs a new leadership,” he told a press conference. “You lost, I understand those who made mistakes, who are worried about their seats. But that’s enough, don’t damage this country and this city don’t play with Istanbul’s destiny.”

Agence France-Presse