Tuesday April 2, 2019
By Bethan McKernan
Ruling party appeals over Istanbul poll, pushing back official outcome by a week
An election banner in Istanbul showing the AKP candidate, Binali Yıldırım, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA
Official results in local elections that appear to have delivered a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s dominance over Turkey
have been pushed back until next week, as the ruling Justice and
Development party (AKP) said it had decided to lodge objections in
Istanbul’s neck-and-neck mayoral race.
The head of Turkey’s election board, Sadi Güven, said on Tuesday that
appeals in elections for mayors and municipal leaders in 30 cities, 51
provincial capitals and 922 districts would be evaluated this week and
parties may file objections to board decisions on Friday, meaning final
results were not expected until 11 April at the earliest.
Tensions are running high across the country after unofficial initial results
in Sunday’s elections indicated wins for the secular opposition
People’s Republican party (CHP) in cities including Ankara, the capital,
and Istanbul, the country’s cultural and commercial centre.
The predicted opposition gains were a surprise for the ruling
government coalition and for the bloc of opposition parties that banded
together to maximise the chances of capitalising on voters’
dissatisfaction with Turkey’s burgeoning economic crisis.
In Ankara, the CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş is predicted to have
secured 50.9% of the vote, leaving the AKP candidate trailing with 47.1%
– a result that would end a quarter of a century of Islamist party
control of the capital. The AKP said it would appeal.
A final result is yet to be released in Istanbul, where the official
vote count was suspended more than once while showing a lead for the
CHP’s Ekrem İmamoğlu.
The AKP candidate, the former prime minister Binali Yıldırım,
acknowledged on Monday that Imamoğlu was about 25,000 votes ahead, but
said he believed the CHP’s lead was due to 300,000 invalid votes. His
party would contest the results in all 39 of Istanbul’s districts, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Both parties have claimed victory, with Imamoğlu updating his Twitter profile to call himself mayor of Istanbul.
While the AKP secured more than 50% of votes nationwide, the
predicted opposition wins came despite Turkey’s heavy pro-government
media bias, allegations of AKP interference with the electoral roll and
arrests of opposition candidates across the majority-Kurdish south-east
of the country over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’
The reported results, as they stand, will inflame tensions within Erdoğan’s party and complicate government efforts
to combat Turkey’s economic problems. The country officially entered a
recession in February and inflation is hovering at about 20%, sending
the cost of living soaring.