Turkish election body will not rerun Istanbul district polls

Board rejects opposition demand to cancel district elections, a week after it ordered rerun of Istanbul mayoral polls.

    Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu was initially declared Istanbul's mayor after March 31 polls [Reuters]
    Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu was initially declared Istanbul's mayor after March 31 polls [Reuters]

    Turkey's High Election Board (YSK) has rejected bids by opposition parties to annul local elections in 39 Istanbul districts, as well as last year's nationwide elections, following last week's decision to strip the opposition of its victory in the March 31 mayoral race.

    On May 6, the YSK ordered a rerun of the mayoral election for Istanbul, citing irregularities in the appointment of polling station officials, but did not cancel votes for district administrators, mayors, and municipal councils in the metropolis.

    The decision came after appeals by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development (AK) Party, claiming some officials overseeing the election were not civil servants, as required by law. 

    In response, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and its ally Iyi (Good) Party argued that all the other votes in Istanbul, as well as Erdogan's parliamentary and presidential victory last year, should also be annulled because the same flaws took place in those elections.

    They said all the votes in the March polls were cast in the same envelopes and counted by the same officials. The board rejected the argument.

    CHP's Ekrem Imamoglu had won the Istanbul mayoral race by a slim margin, while the AK Party won a majority of district mayor and administrator posts and in municipal councils.

    Extremely close result

    Istanbul's mayorship has been controlled by the AK Party for the last 15 years. Erdogan was also the mayor of Istanbul between 1994 and 1998.

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    Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in local elections to elect city mayors, council members, and other local officials for the next five years. 

    The AK Party also lost the mayorship in the capital, Ankara, in the polls. 

    The election took place against the backdrop of an ongoing economic slowdown in Turkey, amid spiralling inflation, rising unemployment, and a devalued currency. The Turkish economy entered recession for the first time in a decade last year.

    Erdogan had personally campaigned hard ahead of the local elections, his first electoral test since the economic crisis began.

    The replay of the Istanbul mayoral election is due to be held on June 23.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies