Middle East

Erdogan’s party calls for new elections in Istanbul

(CNN)–Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, is asking the country’s election council for a redo of the mayoral election in Istanbul, the country’s financial capital and its largest city.

Claiming “organized irregularities,” the party has for weeks contested the results of the March 31 election, which it appears to have lost by a razor-thin margin.

“There is a clear and organized irregularity and election fraud,” said AKP Deputy Chairman Ali İhsan Yavuz. “There is only one body to clear the questions. It is Supreme Election Council. Their decisions are binding for all of us.”

The main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, garnered 48.79% and the AKP 48.51% of the vote, according to unofficial results. A recount requested by the AKP has ended, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu and CHP members, but the results haven’t been announced.

“There isn’t a tiny bit of problem in the process,” said CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoglu. “Before the elections, they said Turkey has the world’s most trustworthy election system. Today they shout ‘there are irregularities.'”

Before this vote, the AKP and its predecessor have consistently won in Istanbul’s local elections since the 1990s, when Erdogan launched his political career there as mayor. He served as the face of AKP’s local election campaigns this year, holding rallies across Turkey in support of the party.

Erdogan’s AKP also lost the capital city Ankara in local elections there the same day. The Supreme Election Council, or YSK, last week rejected a request by the AKP to recount votes there, Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported.

The YSK now will decide whether to give the mandate to İmamoglu in Istanbul or to hold new elections June 2.

“They count too many reasons to object” to the election results, CHP spokesperson Faik Oztrak said of Erdogan’s party. “If one of them does not work, they try the other.” İmamoglu should be given the mandate to start the job as mayor, Oztrak said. “This should be done by law” and as a matter of conscience, he said.

By Isil Sariyuce and Theresa Waldrop, CNN

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