Fury at the loss of the Istanbul mayoral race to Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party) in the local elections on 31 March (reported in my blog Erdoğan faces his moment of truth by challenging the results (11 April 2019) President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has secured a rerun of the election for Istanbul mayor on 23 June. His ruling party refused to accept the result claiming that there were ‘irregularities and corruption’ in the vote. Under extreme pressure Turkey’s ruling electoral body, the higher election board (YSK) agreed, provoking anger in Turkey, especially in Istanbul and there are reports that there are even concerns at the decision by some within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which could have future political implications. However they did not order a rerun of votes for district administrators, mayors, and municipal councils in the city.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the local election a matter of “national survival”. His opponents were called terrorists and traitors. His grip on the media resulted in overwhelming positive coverage in the run-up to the election. Yet although his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) nationally won just over 51% of the votes on an 84% turnout, the loss of major cities is a moment of truth for Turkey’s authoritarian president. Ankara, the capital was won by the opposition secular Republican People’s Party (CHP). Istanbul, Erdoğan’s birthplace and former stronghold, is holding a recount demanded by the President. So far the CHP maintains its narrow lead.
Today is municipal election day in Turkey when voters elect local mayors and councillors. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the poll is about the “survival” of the country and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Turkey is in recession, with 20% inflation and the lira which has plunged by a third in value, is causing bankruptcies. The result will be as a referendum on President Erdogan’s record and he knows it. One journalist who will not be covering the elections is NUJ member and Morning Star international editor Steve Sweeney. Last week he flew out to Istanbul, but on arrival at the airport he was detained without explanation, questioned, branded a terrorist and deported. Steve takes up the story: Continue reading NUJ member harassed and detained then deported by Turkish authorities for just doing his job