Istanbul residents head to polls again to choose mayor
Millions of voters in Istanbul will go to ballot boxes again on June 23 to elect a mayor after Turkey’s top election authority controversially annulled the results of the March 31 local election in the country’s biggest province.
Besides the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was declared winner of the March 31 elections before its results got scrapped, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım, Felicity (Saadet) Party candidate Necdet Gökçınar, Vatan Party candidate Mustafa İlker Yücel and 17 independent candidates will run in the local polls.
The race for Istanbul is a high profile one, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as its predecessor party, had narrowly lost control of Istanbul for the first time in 25 years in the March 31 elections, despite maintaining its popularity in most provinces in Turkey.
The tenure of İmamoğlu, who was once an Istanbul district mayor, was short-lived in Istanbul after the Supreme Election Council (YSK) accepted claims of fraud by the AKP and called for a re-run on June 23.
The election is important because the city of 15 million, straddling Europe and Asia, is Turkey’s financial, commercial and cultural center, with a budget worth $8.8 billion last year.
Before the March vote across Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had led the AKP campaign to shore up nationalist and religious sentiment, framing the elections as part of a fight to safeguard the nation three years after a failed coup attempt. In the home stretch of the AKP campaign for June 23, Erdoğan again appeared at the rallies few days before the polls, this time appealing the national vision movement votes of the conservative opposition Felicity (Saadet) Party and Kurdish voters of Istanbul to close the narrow gap with the opposition candidate.
The AKP’s Yıldırım, a former prime minister; parliament speaker and minister, lost by around 13,000 votes to İmamoglu on March 31.
The results of the March vote were canceled after the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed with the YSK, citing irregularities and violations to the country’s election law. The mayoral certificate of İmamoğlu was revoked by the YSK on May 6.
According to the YSK, the decision was made based on appeals that ineligible officers and polling staffs, who are supposed to be civil servants as per Turkish law, served during the elections.
Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in the local elections to choose mayors, city council members and neighborhood heads in their respective provinces.
Istanbul’s residents will go to polling stations on June 23 to only elect a mayor to the city.