Yesterday, the Turkish Central election commission made a final decision in regard to the contested election results for mayor of Istanbul, which took place on March 31. After the candidate from the opposition Republican People’s Party (NPP), Ekrem İmamoğlu, declared victory with a margin of only 13,729 votes, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched an appeal process to push for a recount.
By a majority of votes (7 voted “for’’, 4 -“ against ”), the CEC decided to cancel the election results and hold a second vote, as well as to withdraw the official document certifying the candidate’s victory which was issued to İmamoğlu 17 days after the elections.
Not only Turkish opposition parties, but also representatives of the EU expressed criticism of this decision.
İmamoğlu: “everything will be fine”
Istanbul’s temporarily elected mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, in commenting on the CEC’s decision said: “In no case erase the smile from your face, and do not lose hope in your heart. Stay with me, and all of you will see that everything will be fine. “
Binali Yıldırım: “let this be for the good”
In turn, the mayoral candidate from the AKP, Binali Yıldırım, tweeted that “The CEC made public its decision to hold a re-election of the mayor of Istanbul. After the publication of the official statement of the CEC, I will comment on this decision in detail. I hope it will benefit our Istanbul and will have good results. ”
The reaction of various political parties was also not long in coming.
Faik Öztrak, press secretary of the Republican People’s Party, sharply criticized the CEC decision, saying: “By its decision, the CEC showed complete disrespect for the will of the voters. We will not allow anyone to go against the popular will. Dirty games of those who in the past came to power as a result of the elections, and now, following the results of the elections, do not want to leave, were approved by the gang acting within the CEC as instructed from above. This decision dealt a blow to the last stronghold of democracy – the ballot box. The CEC was not able to withstand the pressure and threats of the authorities and canceled its earlier decisions. The CEC rejected the very meaning of its existence, throwing democratic values into the abyss. ”
Akşener: “remember this day”
The Chairman of the İyi Party, Meral Akşener, also commented on the CEC’s decision: “Remember this day. On this day, the will of our people was violated, on this day the democracy of Turkey was stained. On this day, our country was disgraced before the whole world. Today, according to the power of the people, even to which it was opened 72 years ago by the democratic party, a blow was struck once more by forces, who constantly recall the names of those heroes.
The sacrificial will of our people, regardless of who he voted for, is a victim of this civil coup that succeeded the attempts of a military coup. We will not remain silent before this blow to our democracy. After consultations within the party and with our coalition allies, we will publicize our action plan against those who are trying to strike at popular will. ”
AKP: WE RESPECT FOR THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
The AKP’s spokesperson Ömer Çelik, said: “The CEC decided to hold a vote in Istanbul again. Appeal to the will of the people – an important step to eliminate suspicions of fraud. It was necessary to establish a transparent electoral process for the formation of a control system in this city. The CEC decision demonstrates clear evidence of lawlessness and fraud in the electoral process. The river of politics and democracy flows in a legal way. For politicians, quantitative legitimacy entails both legal and political legitimacy.
As a result of the recognition of our appeals as legal within the framework of legal norms, it was decided to hold a repeated election of the mayor of Istanbul. From the very beginning, we stated that we respect the electoral process. ”
Democratic People’s Party: “this is an anti-democratic decision”
The Democratic People’s Party also expressed its reaction to the CEC decision: “The CEC, violating the rule of law, bowing its head to the pressure of the authorities and, in fact, recognizing its dependence, made a decision that has nothing to do with democratic values. The judges once again spotted their robes and trampled on moral and legal principles. ”
The CEC’s arguments
The CEC said that the reasoning behind faulting the elections were violations in the process by the chairmen of a number of polling stations and their members, many of whom were not civil servants.
As a result of an investigation conducted following the AKP’s appeal, it was established that the chairmen of 225 polling stations and 3,500 employees were not civil servants and that the votes cast at these polling stations affected the difference in votes between the candidates. The CEC also decided to initiate an investigation against those responsible for appointing the chairmen in the first place.
The first foreign reaction to the CEC decision came from the EU.
The rapporteur of the European Parliament (EP) on Turkey, Kati Piri, published the following statement: “Erdogan does not want to admit his defeat and goes against the will of the people. The SEP pressured the CEC to re-run elections. This decision puts an end to trust in the democratic system of transferring power through elections in Turkey. ”
Jagland: impact on the confidence of voters
The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, said that the decision could be a serious blow to the confidence of voters. According to Euronews, Jagland said: “We emphasize that the necessary conditions for free and fair elections should be checked before election day, not after. The decision of the Supreme Electoral Council can cause serious damage to the confidence of Turkish voters in the election administration.”
He stressed that the Turkish people deserve an electoral process which provides democratic guarantees, and including a reliable and stable legal framework.
“It is necessary to restore the lost confidence”
In turn, the Chairman of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Anders Knape, in a written statement stressed the need to restore lost confidence in the electoral process among voters. According to Knape, “repeated elections are an extraordinary measure that must be clearly and reliably substantiated.” The electoral process should be as transparent and objective as possible, he stressed. “The appeals filed by the AKP contradict our understanding of democracy and fair elections,” Knape said.
He noted that this step violates international legal norms adopted to ensure a stable and reliable electoral process.
“Turkey should invite observers to elections”
EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn stressed in a joint written statement that the CEC’s decision is “largely politicized” and it’s necessary “to provide a clear rationale for this step in the near future “.
In addition, EU representatives called on Turkey to invite international observers from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to oversee the upcoming re-election.