‘Giving mandate to İmamoğlu in Istanbul was a psychological threshold' - columnist

Handing Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul mayoral candidate, the official certificate needed to take office was a psychological threshold in a process designed by “undefined actors” to limit the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, pro-government columnist Okan Müderrisoğlu said in Sabah daily on Thursday.

İmamoğlu was officially confirmed as Istanbul’s mayor on Wednesday, 17 days after local polls were held on March 31.

Turkey’s ruling party faced defeats in local polls not only in Istanbul, but also in the Turkish capital of Ankara, and the losses are seen by many as a major blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Müderrisoğlu called this the work of unnamed actors working against the ruling party.

“It is understood that there are some actors, whose appearance is yet vague, that have given themselves the responsibility of establishing a checks-balances mechanism in the executive presidential system,” he said. 

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has appealed to the Supreme Election Council for a rerun of elections in Turkey’s most populous province, after raising claims there were serious irregularities in electoral records and procedures that appeared to be the job of an organised group.

After getting his mandate, İmamoğlu made a speech to tens of thousands supporter gathered in front of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality located in Fatih district. İmamoğu’s supporters continued to celebrate in districts across Istanbul throughout the night. 

Müderrisoğlu said the local polls had been exploited by certain powers that aimed to reshape Turkey, to strike a blow against the Turkish government via the election in Istanbul. 

According to Müderrisoğlu, the provincial electoral board’s decision to give İmamoğlu his certificate while the AKP’s appeal is still under review had been made with full knowledge of the complicated legal and political implications it entailed.

“While declaring the winner of the Istanbul election over unofficial results is a legal decision, expecting the authorities to wait for the final decision that will determine the official results is also legal,” Müderrisoğlu said

“The election certificate is the most serious psychological threshold in this process, which has been designed from the start, and its cancellation will indicate a stage that will affect both society and politics,” Müderrisoğlu said, pointing to the possibility that İmamoğlu’s mandate may be revoked if the YSK decides to annul the Istanbul vote.

The journalist said İmamoğlu’s declarations of victory since the initial vote count came in on April 1 had been designed to keep his supporters ready to mobilise and protest if a decision went against him.