Justice or gambling? - Decision of rerun Istanbul mayoral election | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

19 May,

Justice or gambling? - Decision of rerun Istanbul mayoral election

President Erdogan and his party have been calling for a rerun of local elections after AKP's losses in big cities. YSK decided to rerun the election. Was this move merely to seek justice or political gambling by President Erdogan?

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On 31 March 2019 Turkey held local elections across the country. Although the ruling party AKP (Justice and Development party) had the majority of votes, it could not secure its power in large cities especially in Ankara and Istanbul those winned by the opposition party CHP, and which were regarded as a “stronghold” AKP's political power.

It was certainly an unexpected blow to AKP because losing elections in these two cities was predicted by neither high ranking AKP officials nor AKP constituents. After elections result officially declared by YSK (Supreme Electoral Council), AKP pushed to call for election recounts and investigations for electoral frauds in various cities, emphasized on Istanbul and Ankara. As a result, on Monday YSK ruled for rerun new Istanbul Mayoral election on 23 June. It clouded the electoral process and democracy in Turkey once again.

Electoral politics have always been one of the central issues in Turkish politics after the first multi-party election in 1946. There had always controversial debates whether elections were held according to democratic principles such as free and fair elections. Of course, this is not an unusual case in domestic politics. Since Turkey is not a country with historic experience of democracy, it is expected to be ups and downs in its democratic evolution. 

Today Turkey declares itself as a country according with the rule of law and democracy. However, Western countries and international institutions have been criticizing Turkey over the discrepancy in democracy and authoritarian turn. So this case will cause to be questioned democracy in Turkey and Mr. Erdogan’s authoritarian political attitudes once again in the international arena. 

Probably, international criticisms are not important as the rerun of the election to Mr. Erdogan because winning the election in Istanbul is imperative for winning next elections, thus securing his political power. Because Istanbul is the financial and economic capital of Turkey and hosts large amounts of economic activities especially in construction and production. So losing Istanbul means somehow decrease in the political capital of AKP and limited access of elite class to economic gains who support AKP.

So far in the electoral history of Turkey religious attitudes, political ideology and economic consideration have been serving as core determinants in the voting decision. But the results of this election showed that at this time economic concerns should be just added to the top of this list. In recent years, Turkey has been struggling with economic stagnation, deprivation of its currency, high unemployment rate, inflation. 

The economic growth was a tag line for AKP in the previous elections. It seems that the success story of economic growth came to end and the Turkish electorate wanted to choose an alternative instead of AKP. Rather respecting and accepting the decision of the electorate, AKP pushed for rerunning election, and this can even backfire due to prevailing pessimism among Turkish about their economic future. Another important point, this decision may lead to weakening the trust to YSK which is the key institution to regulate the electoral process in Turkey. There were outcries and claims about flawed elections in previous years. However, YSK refused these claims and declared election results valid. At this time the decision made by YSK implies that YSK either accepted irregularities or could not resist the pressure from Mr. Erdogan. In both cases, impartial and strong image of YSK will decline in the eyes of Turkish voters.


Islam Mammadov

Eurasia Diary

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