Voting begins in Turkey's re-do Istanbul elections
Voting started at 8 a.m. local time and will continue through 5 p.m. local time at 31,342 ballot boxes across the city’s 39 districts.
“Istanbul voters will make the most accurate decision for the city,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters after casting his vote in Istanbul’s Üskudar district.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, candidate of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Binali Yıldırım of the ruling Justice and Development (AKP), are vying to run the metropolitan municipality of Turkey’s most populous city after a previous vote on March 31 was annulled by the country’s top election council last month.
“I heartily believe Istanbulites will surely make the best decision,” Yıldırım told reporters following his vote in Istanbul’s Tuzla district.
“For Istanbul to become a global city, elections are an important opportunity to apply the experiences we have gained throughout the country,” he added.
İmamoğlu cast his vote in Istanbul’s district of Beylikdüzü, where he was the former mayor.
“Everything will be very fine at the end of the day,” he said.
Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in local elections to choose mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials) and members of elder councils for the next five years.
On March 31, the turnout was 83.88 percent, six percentage points lower than the previous local elections of March 30, 2014.
AKP won 24 district municipalities across the province, while the CHP won 14.
The results in March were canceled after AKP and its coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), appealed to the YSK, citing irregularities and contradictions with legal measures, leading to the revocation of İmamoğlu’s mayoral certificate.
YSK chief Sadi Güven said all eligible voters who cast their ballots in the March 31 poll would be able to do so again in a re-do vote for Istanbul’s metropolitan mayor.
However, 44,852 voters were removed from the electoral lists due to convictions, military service or death.
The YSK announced the total number of voters would be 10,560,963 for the June 23 elections.
During the March 31 elections, voters chose from among 32 candidates - 24 of them independent - on the ballot.
This time, there will be only 21 candidates, including nominees from the AKP, the CHP, the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Patriotic (Vatan) Party along with 17 independent hopefuls.
The YSK ruled in favor of a re-run, with seven votes in favor and four against.
Some 30,281 votes in 108 ballot boxes were declared invalid due to vote-counting sheets being unsigned or absent altogether, the YSK said in a statement.
Also, polling clerks who were not civil servants served in 754 polling centers in the March 31 mayoral elections in Istanbul.
The council said this practice was unprecedented and influenced the difference between the ruling and opposition alliances - down to 13,729 ballots - and therefore raised questions on the validity of results.