Election council convenes to finalize Istanbul polls
Turkey’s election watchdog has begun deliberations on an appeal filed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which wants to annul and re-run the March 31 local elections in Istanbul, 36 days after the opposition’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, won to become mayor of the country’s largest city.
The Supreme Election Council (YSK) convened under the leadership of its chair Sadi Güven May 6 in a bid to evaluate the results of the works carried out by the watchdog’s provincial electoral bodies in Istanbul.
The YSK’s 11 judges first met in a meeting with the participation of the representatives of political parties before holding a separate discussion to decide on the Istanbul polls. The AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) filed an extraordinary appeal seeking the cancellation of the Istanbul polls due to what they say were marred by irregularities that resulted in election results to the disadvantage to their candidate, Binali Yıldırım.
The difference in votes between the two was less than 14,000. The main opposition Republican People's Party’s (CHP) İmamoğlu started his job as mayor of Istanbul after his mandate was given to him on April 17.
The AKP and the MHP argue that some 40,000 ineligible voters participated in the elections and the appointments of many polling station officials were done against regulations.
State-run Anadolu Agency had reported May 5 that a criminal probe launched into irregularities resulted in finding 43 officials “linked to FETÖ.”
Meanwhile, the YSK rejected a fresh appeal by the AKP which sought to invalidate the votes of individuals dismissed through emergency decrees after the July 2016 coup attempt.
YSK’s historic responsibility
Ahead of the YSK’s meeting, the CHP once again called on the YSK to make an independent decision. “We believe that the YSK will not take part in a legal crime.
The YSK’s decision is not only about the Istanbul elections but our democracy,” CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak told a press conference on May 5.
The YSK should base its decision in accordance with the laws, Öztrak said, calling on the judges not to succumb to pressure from the government.
“In today’s world, standards of the contemporary civilizations are absolute. One of these standards corresponds to the democratic norms,” Öztrak said.
“Will Turkey be an equal and honorable member of this contemporary civilization or will it be relegated to the league of failed states of the Middle East? The founders of this country had answered this question in 1923. Turkey will be an equal and honorable member of the family of the contemporary civilization,” he added.