Spotlight: Turkey's election results remain in limbo as ruling party disputes opposition's victory in major cities

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-07 06:10:22|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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ANKARA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Turkey has so far not declared the final results of the local elections held on March 31 as the ruling party contested the slim victory by the opposition in the country's largest city Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signalled that his ruling party will pursue the matter in the court.

Unofficial results showed Ekrem Imamoglu, candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul, took a narrow lead over the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Binali Yildirim, former prime minister and parliament speaker.

The CHP was leading by 25,000 votes in the city, according to initial results.

The AKP also lost its grip in Ankara for the first time since the party was founded in 2001. The opposition bloc's candidate Mansur Yavas won a clear victory in the capital city.

Actually, both parties have placed billboards claiming victory in Istanbul. On Wednesday, the opposition candidate Imamoglu visited the country's founder the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkey and signed the official memorial book with the signature of "Mayor of Istanbul," a move which drew criticism from the ruling party AKP.

Meanwhile, the ruling party stepped up its challenge of the elections through a major vote recount in more than half of the districts of Ankara and Istanbul.

At a midnight meeting on Wednesday, the Turkish election watchdog paved the way for the recount of invalid votes in 15 of the 39 districts of the Istanbul metropolis, in addition to the already ongoing recount of all votes in three districts. The ruling party also pursued a recount in 12 out of Ankara's 25 districts.

On Friday, Imamoglu said he was still ahead of his rival by 18,742 votes after the recount.

"From what I see, it should end this weekend. It will fall into an 18,000-20,000 range," Imamoglu told Fox News, a U.S. television news channel.

Also on Friday, the AKP applied for the annulment of local elections in Istanbul's Buyukcekmece district, but the provincial election board rejected its bid.

However, the controversy seems to linger as Erdogan, also chairman of the AKP, hinted on Friday that he would push for all stages of election courts to contest the election results.

"If the results of the provincial electoral councils don't overlap with ours, then the Supreme Election Council is the final decision-maker for us," he said after four days of silence.

The provincial election boards will settle the objections in three days by April 10. The parties have the right to carry these objections to the Supreme Election Council afterward and the Council has to make a final decision by April 13.

Even if the opposition secures the votes in Ankara and Istanbul, Erdogan has signalled that he would curb the powers of the opposition mayors through the budgets of their cities.

Erdogan stated that the mayor-elected will see the challenge of the ruling party's majority in the city council, although the high board has yet to declare the vote distribution of municipal assemblies.

"If a mayor lacks majority support in the municipal assembly, he cannot form commissions as he pleases nor shape the budge as he wishes," Erdogan said. Istanbul manages a huge budget of more than 4 billion U.S. dollars for 2019.

Istanbul has been in the hands of parties linked to Erdogan since 1994 when he was elected the city's mayor. His political career was built upon years of administration in the city.