Ekrem Imamoglu, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate for mayor of Istanbul. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
CAIRO – 3 April 2019: Turkey's main opposition candidate in Istanbul called on the High Election Board (YSK) on Wednesday to mandate him as elected mayor, after the ruling AK Party objected to results that saw him earn a narrow victory over his rival.
Speaking to reporters in Istanbul after the YSK ruled in favor of recounting votes in eight districts of the country's largest city, Ekrem Imamoglu said that while there could be minor errors in vote counts the outcome will not change.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had campaigned hard for his AK Party in the weeks ahead of the election.
Preliminary results show the opposition's mayoral candidates winning comfortably in the capital Ankara and narrowly taking Istanbul, wrenching Turkey's political and economic centers from Erdoğan's grasp by tapping into widespread discontent fueled by an economic downturn.
The president, however, has not conceded defeat in either city and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) is disputing the results, citing alleged irregularities. The AKP says it wants all votes to be counted correctly and will accept the election board’s final results, which are due in about 10 days. Normally omnipresent, Erdoğan’s public absence since the early hours of Monday amid the wrangling over the results has unnerved his opponents, who now worry about his next move.
The opposition has not forgotten Erdoğan’s strong-arm response to previous election setbacks, such as in 2015 when he reran a general election after the AKP lost single-party rule, or his threats ahead of Sunday’s vote to dismiss elected officials he suspects of wrongdoing.