Turkish authorities have decided to rerun Istanbul’s mayoral election, engendering an international outcry and protests inside Turkey.
Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party, won the election which was held in March.
Despite the international and domestic outcry the decision to rerun the election produced, Erdogan defended the same decision by describing it as the “best move”. He even considered the election victory by the opposition as “systematic corruption”.
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party appealed the results of the election, claiming that some infringements were committed in it.
Imamoglu described the planned rerun as a “major blow to democracy”.
Opposition, European anger
Protests erupted in Istanbul at the rerun which is scheduled for June 23. Hundreds of Istanbul residents gather on the streets and beat their kitchen vessels and utensils in an act of protest against the decision to rerun the vote.
The Bar Association in Izmir staged a protest outside the association headquarters on May 6, a short time after the election commission approved the rerun decision. Those participating in the protest described the decision as an attempt on Erdogan’s part to usurp democracy.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the decision, describing it as “incomprehensible”.
The European Parliament warned, meanwhile, that the rerun would discredit the whole electoral process in Turkey.
Deputy Head of the Republican People’s Party Unal Cevikoz described the decision as “blatant despotism”.
“The government that snubs the will of the people does not respect the law and cannot be democratic or legitimate,” Cevikoz wrote on Facebook.
Imamoglu criticized the decision too. He accused the election commission of working at the orders of the ruling Justice and Development Party.
“We will not compromise our principles,” Imamoglu said. “There are 81 patriots in this country who will defend democracy to the end.”
He called on his backers to practice self-restraint, promising them victory again.
Following 36 days of pressure and tricks, the Turkish ruler succeeded in convincing the election commission to rerun the vote which was lost by his party.
Seven members of the commission approved the rerun decision, whereas four of them rejected the decision. The rerun is due to be held on June 23.
The commission justified its rerun decision by accusing 43 polling station officials of having links with the opposition Fethullah Gulen movement.
Turkish affairs specialist Karam Saeed said Erdogan had been putting pressure on the election commission since the appearance of the Istanbul Mayoral election results in early April.
“The rerun decision is having a toll on political life in Turkey and also on the country’s economy,” Saeed told The Reference.
He said the decision had polarized the Turkish people and also caused losses to the Turkish lira.