Request for Istanbul election recount by Turkey's ruling party rejected

Request for Istanbul election recount by Turkey's ruling party rejected
Turkey's electoral board on Tuesday rejected a request by the ruling AKP for a full recount of votes cast in the hotly contested Istanbul mayoral race.
3 min read
09 April, 2019
The opposition candidate is just 15,000 votes ahead of the AKP candidate [Anadolu]

A request by Turkey's ruling party for a full recount of votes in the highly contested Istanbul mayoral election was  rejected by the country's electoral authority on Tuesday.

The decision by the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) came just after midnight - a day that comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prompted fears from the opposition that his party would call for a re-run of the tense election.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday applied for a full recount of all votes cast in the mayoral race citing "excessive voting irregularities".

Erdogan on Monday claimed there was evidence the "irregular" vote had been marred by "organised crime".

Initial unofficial results pointed to the AKP losing the city to the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), whose candidate Ekrem Imamoglu earned a narrow 28,000 vote lead.

A partial recount of votes, requested by the AKP, diminished Imamoglu's lead to around 15,000 votes.

The YSK will now allow an additional partial recount of 51 ballot boxes in 21 of the city's 39 districts, Recep Ozel, a member of the board, said on Tuesday according to local media.

"This does not mean the process is over," Ozel said.

The decision means around 17,000 will be recounted in Turkey's largest city.

The hotly contested 31 March local elections were widely seen as the first major test for Erdogan and his party since the leader was elected Turkey’s first executive president in 2018.

The loss of Ankara - Turkey's capital, which had been held by the AKP and its predecessor the Welfare Party (RP) since 1994 - to the CHP has been a major blow to the ruling party.

The CHP say Imamoglu has clearly won the race for Istanbul, also held by the AKP and RP since 1994.

Opposition voices fear that the AKP will not give up the prize of Istanbul, and is "manipulating" official institutions and the media to prompt suspicions of vote rigging.

Istanbul is not only symbolically important, the metropolis - alongside Ankara and Izmir, a CHP stronghold - is Turkey's economic powerhouse and cultural centre.

It is also the city were AKP-affiliated business people have been granted the largest contracts - sometimes multi million or billion dollar contracts - by the city municipality.

Such business links have seen the AKP, and Erdogan personally, accused of cronyism and corruption by opposition voices.

Suspicions that the AKP will apply for a re-run of the election remain.