What difference will re-run of Istanbul election make?

What difference will re-run of Istanbul election make?

Turkish top election body's decision for a do-over election in Istanbul is an "important step in strengthening Turkey's democracy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.       

"We see this decision of the Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK), which will remove the shadow over Istanbul elections, an important step in strengthening Turkey's democracy," the Turkish leader said during his address to lawmakers of his ruling AKP at a parliamentary group meeting.         

“There is no such thing that AK Party does not accept the result that comes out from the ballot box," Anadolu Agency cited him as saying. "We sincerely believe organized corruption, utter lawlessness and irregularity occurred in the Istanbul elections," Erdogan added.

The Turkish Supreme Election Council's decision to re-run elections in Istanbul gave rise to mixed reactions in the world. Brussels said that it goes against the core aim of a democratic electoral process, according to the statement from EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

They underlined that ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process is essential to any democracy and is at the heart of the European Union’s relations with Turkey.

In the statement it was stressed that it is important that the Istanbul election boards can carry out their work in an independent, open and transparent manner, and in compliance with international election norms and standards to guarantee the full credibility of the election process. 

The diplomats stressed that the Turkish authorities undermine the electoral process to which the Turkish people have shown their commitment by casting their votes in very large number as well as Turkey’s commitments as member of the Council of Europe.

In addition, Mogherini and Hahn expressed hope that Ankara will extend their invitation to international observers to observe the re-run elections.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the decision to scrap the result of a vote for Istanbul’s mayor is neither transparent nor comprehensible, stressing that Turkish voters alone must decide on the mayor’s office. "Basic democratic principles and transparent election rules are paramount," the German diplomat said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on to respect the decision to cancel the Istanbul polls that was made in accordance with the law. "We do not accept politically-motivated criticism by some of our foreign interlocutors regarding this decision and the Supreme Election Council. Turkey has proven its democratic maturity. The decision of the independent Supreme Election Council aims at ensuring the manifestation of the will of the electorate without any doubt,” the ministry stressed.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition candidate who narrowly won the March 31 election, announced on Tuesday that he would run again, and rallied his supporters by retweeting a message from his party’s Twitter account that said, “We will win again.”

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council announced yesterday that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23. AK Party's YSK representative Recep Ozel said that 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 the main opposition Republican People’s Party's (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu has also been cancelled by the council./

The head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Yuri Mavashev, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the revision of the Istanbul elections and their cancellation by the CEC was a purely political decision. "The results of this step are very doubtful. It can be explained why Erdogan, despite his understanding of the unpopularity of such a decision, allowed a review of the election. Pressure was exerted on him from his main political ally, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party Devlet Bahçeli, the president took an uncompromising stance after consulting with him. The MHP role is confirmed by the attack of radical supporters of the pro-presidential alliance against leader of the Republican People's Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Çubuk district," he said.

“There are funds recruiting young supporters to the Justice and Development Party in Istanbul, the most famous of which is Ensar. These funds did not want to lose financial privileges after Imamoglu’s intention to stop financing them from the city budget appeared in the media, since it is simply illegal (according to some data, the Istanbul city administration spent about $57 million to support them in 2017-2018). And they also put pressure on Erdogan. I am convinced that it wasn't just the personal desire of the president, because then he would have taken a strong stand from the very beginning," Yuri Mavashev stressed.

As a result, Erdogan as a politician demonstrated the weakness and dependence by taking this decision. “The AKP and Erdogan always insisted on respecting the results of the elections in the country, but now they refused their own words. Now it will lead to rallying the opposition’s ranks. I don’t think that he himself is delighted with this decision, being a far-sighted politician, the president understands how dangerous it is. But, apparently, his allies did not leave him a choice," the political scientist concluded.