Annulment of Istanbul vote marks end of Turkish democracy, novelist says

The cancellation of the results of the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election marks the end of democracy in Turkey, Turkish author and journalist Aslı Erdoğan said in an interview with Germany-based website Qantara.

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the secular main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate was first declared winner of the vote by a narrow margin, but the electoral authority then ordered a rerun on June 23 after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) objected to the result, citing what it said were irregularities.

"Now we can see that we haven't even retained the most fundamental principle of democracy. The principle of free elections," said Erdoğan, who was jailed in Turkey for four months on terrorism charges following a failed coup attempt in 2016. She was released from prison court pending trial, but fled abroad.

"There is nothing left of democracy in Turkey," she said.

The AKP cannot afford to lose the election rerun, she said, and Turkey increasingly deserves to be called a fascist state.

“The result won't even be determined by the will of the voters. They will simply take the necessary precautions,” she said. “I mean fascism in the broader sense, not necessarily as an academic definition. But quite honestly, when one person can determine a life sentence, that isn’t authoritarian or totalitarian to me, it is fascist. In Turkey, it only takes one complaint from one person for someone to get a life sentence. It is no joke anymore.”

Erdoğan is one of the hundreds of authors and journalists who were jailed during the crackdown on the opposition after the 2016 coup attempt. She was awarded the 2018 Simone de Beauvoir Prize, and now lives in Germany.