Er­do­gan’s party re­quests new elec­tion in Is­tan­bul

The Buffalo News - - WORLD NEWS - By Car­lotta Gall

IS­TAN­BUL – The party of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan of Tur­key ap­plied to the coun­try’s elec­tion com­mis­sion Tues­day for a re­run of the Is­tan­bul mayor’s race, af­ter two weeks of ap­peals and re­count­ing of bal­lots still showed the op­po­si­tion can­di­date ahead.

The ap­pli­ca­tion is seen as a last­ditch at­tempt by the gov­ern­ing party to avoid los­ing con­trol of Is­tan­bul, Tur­key’s largest city and fi­nan­cial cen­ter. A de­feat in Is­tan­bul would deal a sig­nif­i­cant blow to Er­do­gan, who has been in power for 18 years.

The 15 mil­lion res­i­dents of Is­tan­bul have been await­ing a re­sult in the closely run may­oral race be­tween a for­mer prime min­is­ter and close ally of Er­do­gan, Bi­nali Yildirim, and the op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party’s can­di­date, Ekrem Imamoglu.

Imamoglu re­mained in the lead by about 13,000 votes with the re­count­ing and in­spec­tion of in­valid bal­lots down to a fi­nal dis­trict in the op­po­si­tion-held sub­urb of Mal­tepe. The count is ex­pected to be com­pleted to­day, and bar­ring any fur­ther de­vel­op­ments, Imamoglu looked likely to be con­firmed as the new mayor.

But the ap­peal by Er­do­gan’s party, Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment, may fore­stall that. Af­ter sub­mit­ting the ap­pli­ca­tion for a do-over, Ali Ih­san Yavuz, the party’s deputy leader, told reporters out­side elec­tion head­quar­ters in the cap­i­tal, Ankara, that 85% of the mis­takes de­tected in the vot­ing were against his party. He said the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in­cluded 16,000 votes for Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment hav­ing been er­ro­neously recorded for other par­ties.

“There is com­plete or­ga­nized ir­reg­u­lar­ity and com­plete elec­tion cor­rup­tion,” Yavuz said. “It shows us the will of the na­tion was snatched away.”

Of­fi­cials from Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment have been say­ing for sev­eral days that as a fi­nal re­sort they would lodge an “ex­tra­or­di­nary ap­pli­ca­tion” for a re­run of the race. A de­ci­sion from the elec­tion coun­cil could come within days, and a new vote would be held June 2 if the gov­ern­ing party’s ap­pli­ca­tion were ac­cepted, of­fi­cials have said.

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