After the Turkish election board’s decision to nullify the results of Istanbul’s municipal elections, Turkey is stepping into new territory. We can expect further oppression of dissent and even violence to set a climate that will ensure victory for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party in a do-over vote.
While not unexpected, the ruling of the Supreme Election Council (YSK) for a rerun election in Istanbul touched nerves. It is unsettling for not only the Istanbul electorate but all Turks as well as the international community, which has been watching Turkey closely.
The March 31 elections that ended of the Justice and Development Party’s more than two decades in control of country’s main commercial hub will be repeated on June 23, thanks to the YSK’s seven members who voted in favor of a rerun. Four who opposed it as a violation of the rule of law.
The ruling came more than a month after Erdogan and his ultranationalist ally, Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, asked for rerun.
Turkey’s opposition saw two silver linings in the decision: First, the YSK’s decision was the latest nail in the coffin of Turkish democracy and the AKP can no longer claim democratic legitimacy. Second, if there is a man who can navigate these choppy waters, it is Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s elected mayor who run on the ticket of an alliance led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).