Ball in election board’s court on Istanbul vote dispute
The hotly contested municipal elections in Istanbul will have to wait for the official announcement of the results by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) as both the government and the opposition have claimed victory, although initial results by the election watchdog show the latter’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, was ahead of the government’s mayoral candidate, Binali Yıldırım, by around 25,000 votes.
According to state-run Anadolu Agency as of late afternoon April 1, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) nominee, 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 opened and all ballots counted.
The gap between the two contenders was around 25,000 votes in line with the initial results announced by YSK President Sadi Güven earlier in the day. He told reporters that İmamoğlu had won 4,159,650 votes and Yıldırım gathered 4,131,761 votes, according to the official numbers by the YSK.
“So far a total of 31,102 ballot box results [in Istanbul] have been registered to the system, 84 ballot box results have not been concluded because of objections,” he said.
Preliminary results of local polls shared with political parties, appeal process continues, said the head of Supreme Electoral Council.
“Mayoral status will be handed to winning candidates unless no objection to poll results,” told Güven on April 2.
At a press conference after Güven’s statement, 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-led 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 unnecessary ways to challenge 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 speedily accomplishment of the process so that our country can return to its normal agenda,” he stated.
YSK to decide: Yıldırım
Following statements by the YSK head and İmamoğlu, Yıldırım told reporters that his rival was 25,000 votes ahead of him. “But there is an important detail here. The number of canceled votes is 319,500. This is important as this figure is 10 times more than the gap between us,” he said.
“Let me tell you what will happen next. Whoever is given the mandate by the YSK will take over as mayor,” Yıldırım said, explaining that all the decisions with regard to the elections will be taken by the YSK.
He also explained why he declared his victory on late March 31 while votes were still being counted. “We observed such a situation according to the initial results we received at 11.25 p.m. That’s why we made such statement. But every development after that hour is a new development for us as well,” he said.
Yıldırım also thanked voters in Istanbul and his party organization for their support during the election campaign. “Election results show the will of the Istanbul people. They were the ones who voted. It was obvious that such a tight race was not expected,” he said.