Turkey recounts Istanbul votes - GulfToday

Turkey recounts Istanbul votes

Turkey-vote

Ekrem Imamoglu speaks to the press at the CHP’s Election Coordination Centre in Istanbul on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

ISTANBUL: Turkish electoral authorities on Wednesday recounted votes in more than a dozen Istanbul districts after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP challenged results giving the opposition a narrow victory in a weekend election.

The AKP won most votes nationwide in Sunday’s municipal ballot, but tallies also showed the party lost the capital Ankara and the country’s economic hub Istanbul in one of its worst setbacks in a decade and a half in power.

AKP officials on Tuesday filed a challenge with electoral authorities saying they had found irregularities in ballots in both Ankara and Istanbul.

“The district branches of the electoral board in Istanbul decided to recount the ballots in eight districts after the appeals yesterday,” Supreme Election Board chief Sadi Guven told reporters.

Anadolu state news agency later said officials were recounting votes in 18 Istanbul districts, including in three where every vote was being verified.

In the other districts, officials were checking only nullified ballots.

AKP officials had said there was a huge discrepancy between ballots cast at polling stations and data sent to election authorities.

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, was a key election prize for Erdogan and he presented former premier and loyalist Binali Yildirim to run as the party candidate for mayor.

Erdogan, himself a former Istanbul mayor, had campaigned hard in the city. But the ruling party was stung by the economy with Turkey in recession for the first time in a decade and inflation in double digits.

Istanbul was a tight race and both Yildirim and the opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu declared victory when tallies showed them in a dead heat.

Electoral authorities on Monday said Imamoglu was ahead by 28,000 votes with nearly all ballot boxes tallied, prompting AKP officials to challenge the result.

“The world is watching us, watching the results of our city’s election,” Imamoglu told reporters on Wednesday, asking that he be handed his mandate as soon as possible.

“I say clearly: Don’t let Turkey’s credibility be destroyed by 3 or 4 people acting like they are kids who had their toys taken away from them.”

Agence France-Presse