Turkey's YSK rules for rerun of Istanbul mayoral elections

Turkey's YSK rules for rerun of Istanbul mayoral elections

Turkey's Supreme Election Council (YSK) announced do-over of Istanbul local elections on May 6 after it made deliberations on an appeal filed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which which wanted 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.

YSK announced that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23. The council members accepted AKPs objection to the local election results in Istanbul with seven votes in favor and four against.

According to the YSK, the decision was taken as some presiding officers and polling staffs, who are supposed to be civil servants as per Turkish law, served during the elections.

The mayoral certificate of İmamoğlu has also been cancelled by the council.

Earlier, YSK convened under the leadership of its chair Sadi Güven on 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 (CHPİmamoğlu started his job as mayor of Istanbul after his mandate was given to him on April 17.

The AKP and the MHP argued that some 40,000 ineligible voters participated in the elections and the appointments of many polling station officials were done against regulations.

Elections in Istanbul, where Nation Alliance candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu was awarded the certificate of the election with only a 13,729-vote difference were followed by lengthy discussions and objections by parties demanding a do-over election due to irregularities and unlawfulness. After the elections, the AK Party submitted an extraordinary objection to the YSK for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Maltepe Municipality and Büyükçekmece Municipality two weeks ago to cancel and redo the Istanbul municipal election.

The AK Party's extraordinary objection concerned four categories: Irregularities in vote count sheets, serious discrepancies between the number of registered voters and the number of voting ballots, some balloting committee chairmen and members not being government employees as required by law and ineligible voters participating in the polls. According to the AK Party, there were significant discrepancies among tabulated results with wet signatures and stamps, showing the first vote record, the final record and the total number of votes submitted to the YSK. There were also empty or unsigned voting records and irregular registrations of voters.

Also state-run Anadolu Agency had reported May 5 that a criminal probe launched into irregularities resulted in finding 43 officials “linked to FETÖ.”

A probe of irregularities found that dozens of members of balloting committees linked the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

Of 43 committee members allegedly linked to FETÖ, 41 were found to be customers of Bank Asya, a FETÖ-linked bank, two were users of ByLock, the terror group's encrypted messaging app, and two were members of FETÖ-linked labor unions.

The CHP will hold an extraordinary assembly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of the party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired his party's Central Executive Board's (MYK) extraordinary meeting at the party's headquarters late Monday.