West’s interest in Istanbul election due to opposition theft at polls, says Erdoğan

The unusually high interest taken in the Istanbul mayoral election by the United States and Europe is linked to the opposition’s stealing of ballots in the city’s March 31 polls, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday.

“No election in Turkey is ordinary, and it has not gone noticed by all that the whole world is watching up. Why are Europe and the United States so interested in the Istanbul election?‘’ independent news site T24 quoted Erdoğan as saying at an iftar dinner in his party’s headquarters in Ankara.

“It is the AK Party who has won despite having its votes stolen. The answer is very simple. They stole the votes,‘’ the Turkish president said, referring to the opposition.

Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received a major blow on March 31, as the opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu declared victory in Istanbul with a very small margin, signalling the end of 25-year rule of the AKP and its predecessors in Turkey’s financial powerhouse.

The AKP was quick to appeal the results, demanding fresh elections due to what it said were serious irregularities in electoral records and procedures. The country’s top election board, the Supreme Election Council (YSK) last week upheld AKP’s appeal, annulling the Istanbul vote and ordering a fresh vote on June 23.

EU officials and European politicians have slammed the ruling by Turkey’s election board to rerun the March vote in Istanbul.

The Council of Europe, which sent election monitors to the initial nationwide elections on March 31, said the rerun had “the potential to severely damage the trust of the Turkish voters in the electoral authorities”.

Erdoğan went on to say whether the AKP wins or loses the revote in Istanbul, he will continue to strive towards winning the hearts of the Turkish people.

The Turkish president also advised AK Party supporters to remain in Istanbul during the summer holidays to cast their votes in the redo.