Apr 15 2019

Turkish ruling party candidate says organised evil stole Istanbul vote

The candidate for Turkey’s ruling Islamist party in the disputed election for mayor of Istanbul, the country’s biggest city and financial hub, said “organised evil” had taken place during the vote two weeks ago that ended with electoral authorities declaring his secularist rival the unofficial winner.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) demanded a partial recount of the vote that is still ongoing two weeks after the March 31 local elections. But preliminary results of the recount still put opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu ahead of the AKP’s Binali Yıldırım, a staunch Erdogan loyalist.

Despite conceding losses in other big cities, the AKP said on Sunday it planned to apply for a rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election, citing fraud. Erdogan launched his political career by becoming mayor of the city in 1994 and the post has been held by his allies ever since. Critics say the AKP uses the municipality to aid friendly businesses and give jobs to supporters.

Yıldırım, a former prime minister, said on Monday he would have won the election if all votes in the Istanbul polls been recounted, opposition Sözcü newspaper reported.

"There was organised evil that took place in these elections. This must be unveiled," Yıldırım told a press conference at the AKP headquarters in Istanbul. He said it was very clear that fraud had taken place.

Yıldırım also called on İmamoğlu to remain silent during the recount process and refrain from declaring himself mayor of the city that is home to 15 million.

The Supreme Election Council (YSK) is currently recounting votes in Istanbul's Maltepe district for a second time after AKP officials rejected results in some 400 ballot boxes that had already been recounted by late on Sunday.