Turkey’s main opposition seeks cancellation of 2018, Istanbul district elections

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Wednesday appealed to the country’s top electoral body for an annulment of local election results in last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections as well as Istanbul’s 39 districts in the March local polls, independent news site Diken reported.

The move arrives following a decision by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) on Monday to annul the CHP’s victory in the city’s mayoral race and order a revote on June 23rd.

The top electoral body ruled in favour of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), after the party contested the March 31 mayoral vote it lost by a small margin to opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu. The AKP maintains there were fraud and irregularities that impacted the outcome of the mayoral race. The YSK said its decision was based on some officials overseeing the mayoral election were not civil servants, as required by law.

The CHP submitted a formal request for the cancellation of the Istanbul district elections and last June’s  general elections, citing the supervision by non-civil servants in  those polls, Diken said.

“If you say that the local election was stained, then the same is valid for the June 24 (2018) elections,” opposition CHP lawmaker Muharrem Erkek told the press after submitting the appeal. “There were 10,000 people who were not civil servants were on duty at the June 24 [2018] elections.”

The YSK’s decision to repeat the mayoral election is final and the CHP cannot appeal the ruling.

Erdoğan’s ruling AKP won a majority of the Istanbul districts and last year’s general elections, which ushered in a presidential system that gave Turkey’s strongman sweeping powers.

“We don’t trust or believe (in the electoral body),” Erkek said. “This is a struggle for democracy. It is not about the CHP or Imamoğlu.”

AKP lost five of Turkey’s most populous provinces in the March 31 local elections. The victory of the opposition candidate in Istanbul, Turkey’s financial hub, was a great loss for Erdoğan whose political career began in the city.