Turkey’s election body has ordered a rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral election after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party complained about its surprise defeat in the vote, the state news agency reported.
The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) narrowly lost Turkey’s biggest city in local elections on 21 March, in one of the biggest challenges to Erdoğan’s grip on the country in years.
The AKP claimed there were “irregularities and corruption” that required a rerun of the mayoral election, which was won by Ekrem İmamoğlu, of the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP), by 15,000 votes.
İmamoğlu received his official mandate after two weeks of recounts, sending shockwaves through the ruling party. Erdoğan, a former mayor of the city, once said winning Istanbul was like winning the whole of Turkey.
Erdoğan had presented the local elections as a matter of national survival, and campaigned heavily even though he was not running himself.
The AKP still won the most seats nationwide, but anger over the deteriorating economy led it to lose mayorships in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.
The party did not request a rerun of the election for Istanbul’s local assembly, in which it won a majority of seats.
The opposition CHP said the election rerun was a result of “plain dictatorship”.
“It is illegal to win against the AK party,” the CHP’s deputy chair, Onursal Adiguzel, said on Twitter. “This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic, nor legitimate. This is plain dictatorship.”
Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report.
Source: The Guardian