Earlier this year, Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party, the AK Party, as it is called (AKP), lost its battle for control over the country’s largest city in that nation’s March 31 local elections.
The candidate of the CHP Republican People’s Party, Akram Emmulo, won the vote with 15,000 votes to spare.
But after a month of arguments and maneuvering by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who described the local ballots as critical to the country’s survival, there has come a new twist.
Turkey’s Electoral Commission has just ordered a new mayoral election in the city of Istanbul after pressure from the president, with Erdogan clearly hoping for a different result this time around.
Only the mayoral vote is being questioned: not that of the Istanbul city council, which in fact remained under the control of the AK Party – making it clear the “re-vote” has more to do with Erdogan than it has to do with questions about legitimacy.
The AK Party won 51 percent of the vote nationwide in a result that shocked the president, losing control of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul in the process. It came as a blow to Erdogan, who once ruled Istanbul as mayor himself. In the past, he had told reporters that victory in Istanbul was the same as victory in Turkey as a whole.
The changing of the guard in Istanbul – known in ancient times as Constantinople – came after 25 years under the iron fist of the AK Party.
But residents of Istanbul will return to the polls on June 23, Turkey’s Electoral Commission announced, to see whether there will really be change, or not.