Turkish opposition Islamist party to take part in Istanbul vote rerun

The Turkish Islamist opposition Felicity Party is to field a candidate in the June 23 rerun election to choose a new mayor of Istanbul, scotching reports it would not take part in the polls to help the secular main opposition, independent news site T24 reported on Tuesday.

The main opposition secularist candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu was declared winner of the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election, but the electoral board annulled the results after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Islamist party lodged an objection, alleging ballot box irregularities.

The Felicity Party candidate Necdet Gökçınar received 103,364 votes on March 31, or only 1.21 percent of the total of more than 8 million, but that was still far more than the 13,000-vote margin by which İmamoğlu won the mayoral race.

Opposition supporters said if Gökçınar withdrew from the rerun it would help İmamoğlu, but some analysts said Felicity Party supporters were more likely to switch their votes to Erdoğan’s ruling party.