May 11 2019

EU’s Hahn says Turkish election body’s reasoning for cancelling Istanbul polls ‘comical’

European Commission chief Johannes Hahn said the reasoning cited by Turkey’s top election body in cancelling the Istanbul mayoral vote for a redo was ‘’comical,’’ German Welt am Sonntag Sunday newspaper reported.

A decision by the Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK) on Monday to hold fresh elections for mayor of Istanbul, where the main opposition candidate scored victory by a narrow margin, was met with disbelief and concern in the European Union. 

The YSK said it made the decision because  electoral boards had appointed polling officials who did not meet the legal criteria of being public officials.

Hahn, who was quick to release a statement saying the decision was made “in a highly politicised context,” told the German newspaper that the YSK’s reasoning for their decision “comedy like” while also criticising the ban on mayors elected in Turkey's southeast from taking office.

Critics have said that the polling officials were authorised almost a month before the elections by the YSK, and that previous elections have stood despite the participation of polling station officials who were not public servants.

The Istanbul redo scheduled for June 23rd follows opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu's victory in the March 31 polls, marking  President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's conservative political movement losing control of the city of 16 million for the first time in a quarter century.