Election board to have last say on poll results in Istanbul and Ankara
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has submitted complaints of voting irregularities in the March 31 elections for several districts in Istanbul, Ankara, Siirt, Adıyaman, Denizli, Zonguldak, Karabük, Bartın, Samsun, Erzurum and Yalova.
The AKP officially contested Sunday’s poll results in 39 districts in Istanbul, AKP Istanbul provincial chair Bayram Şenocak said on April 2 after results showed its candidate, Binali Yıldırım, lost the post.
“We have identified tricks and irregularities since the start of the voting process that contradicts legislation and fair selection environment,” he said. Şenocak noted that they identified differences between the results submitted to the High Election Board (YSK) and the sealed records of the ballot boxes.
The ruling party filed complaints for 25 districts in Ankara, saying there were 3,217 cases of irregularities.
Meanwhile, opposition İYİ (Good) Party has asked the election authority to resolve a dispute over as many as 3,800 ballots cast in local polls which it said was enough to change the outcome of the voting in the western Uşak province.
The head of Turkey’s election authority announced that the mayoral status will be handed to winning candidates if there is no appeal of the results of the poll.
Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara, YSK head Sadi Güven said: “The certificate of election will be given in places where there is no objection [to election results].”
District election boards have a two-day decision-making period, while provincial election boards have one day, he said. After that time period, the boards may come to the YSK within three days, Güven added.
At a press conference after Güven’s statement, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu thanked the YSK for sharing the watchdog’s vote-counting with the public. He said it was a step taken in the right direction for democracy.
İmamoğlu, who ran for the post as the joint candidate of the CHP and İYİ Party’s Nation Alliance, said they had the figures of each and every polling station in Istanbul and their initial findings matched those of the YSK. “It makes us happy to see that our records overlap with the ones announced by the YSK,” he said.
The CHP’s candidate announced his victory in the Istanbul elections, saying the counted votes left no doubts and urging AKP officials not to resort to challenging the outcome. “Let me mention to you one issue they are raising now. They say there are 290,000 invalid votes. This figure was 422,000 and was equal to 4.7 percent of all votes in the 2014 elections. This percentage of invalid votes is normal in every election,” he said.
“Looking into is not different from entering a bottomless well. This can complicate the whole process. Our demand is a speedy accomplishment of the process so that our country can return to its normal agenda,” he stated.
İmamoğlu, on April 2, visited the mausoleum of modern Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara and signed the guest book as the “mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.” He was scheduled to meet with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as well.
The hotly contested municipal elections in Istanbul will have to wait for the official announcement of the results by the YSK, although initial results by the election watchdog show İmamoğlu is ahead of the government’s mayoral candidate, Yıldırım, by around 25,000 votes.
According to state-run Anadolu Agency as of late afternoon April 1, İmamoğlu received 48.79 percent of the votes, while the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Yıldırım garnered 48.51, with 99.75 of all citywide ballot boxes having been opened and all ballots counted.