Turkey’s top election authority voided the election victory of an opposition candidate and ordered a re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul, ruling Monday in favor of the challenge made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party to the legitimacy of the vote it narrowly lost.
Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, won the mayor’s race in Turkey’s largest city by a slim margin on March 31, defeating the ruling party’s candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Erdogan’s conservative and Islamic-based Justice and Development Party, or AKP, alleged election irregularities made the results invalid. It pushed for an annulment of the vote after 17 days of appeals and repeated recounts failed to produce a different outcome.
State-run Anadolu Agency said the Supreme Electoral Board ruled in favor of Erdogan’s party and that new elections in Istanbul would be held June 23. Private NTV television reported the board voted 7-4 in favor of voiding the earlier vote.
The opposition has in the past questioned the independence of the electoral body, and members held an emergency meeting Monday night, NTV reported.
Turkey’s March 31 local elections were a major setback for Erdogan. His party lost city hall in the capital, Ankara, as well as Istanbul, ending a 25-year run in control of both cities by the the ruling party and its Islamist predecessor.