Election rerun in Istanbul
As expected, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the decision of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council to rerun the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election.
The Turkish leader had called for such an outcome in the first place. His party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), introduced many legal and procedural appeals and had succeeded in having many recounts ordered.
But, after 17 days of appeals and recounts, Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), remained ahead even if by a slim margin. Turkish prosecutors initiated 32 investigations and more than 100 officials were questioned as “suspects” in alleged election irregularities.
The decision of the electoral council shocked Turkey’s opposition.
“It is illegal to win against the AK Party,” CHP Deputy Chairman Onursal Adiguzel commented. “This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic, nor legitimate. This is plain dictatorship.”
The move will cast doubts about Turkey’s electoral process and fuel allegations about its leader trying to impose an unchallenged authoritarian rule.
For others, the decision is bound to raise questions about the commitment of Islamists to democracy. Kadri Gursel, a respected journalist commented: “The decision to rerun the local elections in Istanbul: Political Islam is proven finally & irrevocably incompatible with democracy.”
It is obvious from the jitters the decision has sent to financial quarters that the move will not help Turkey’s recession-plagued economy.
The concern is shared by diplomats and experts who will be watching the election rerun June 23 to see if Ankara sees any limits to its political overreach.