Turkey’s president has called on electoral authorities to annul the results of local elections in Istanbul — the country’s economic heartland and his home city — due to alleged irregularities.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the authorities had failed to appoint “civil servants” as ballot box officials at some polling stations in Turkey’s largest city during the March 31 elections, Turkey’s Daily Sabah paper reported on Wednesday. Instead, the authorities had put “regular people” in those positions, compromising the elections’ fairness, he added.
“Our colleagues have established this. Naturally, all this casts doubt. If they take a sincere view, this will lead to annulment,” he noted.
The polls saw Turks voting to elect scores of mayors, municipal councils, and other local officials. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party secured an overall victory with some 51 percent of the votes.
The AK party, however, suffered major defeats in the elections, which handed a victory to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the political power base, Ankara, and the third-largest city of Izmir.
Results showed the CHP had narrowly won control of Istanbul, seemingly bringing an end to the AK party’s 25-year-old rule there.
Any decision to annul the elections rests with the High Election Board.
The board has already once rejected an AK party appeal to recount the votes cast in 31 of Istanbul’s 39 districts. The electoral body has only agreed to a recount of 51 ballot boxes in 21 of the districts.
A senior official was cited by Reuters as saying on Tuesday that the party would demand a new vote in Istanbul now that the board has turned down its appeal.
Erdogan and the AK party had won every election since the party first came to power in 2002.
The latest local elections were also a test for the country’s new Erdogan-backed presidential system, which the Turkish public voted in favor of in a referendum in 2017, awarding sweeping powers to Erdogan.