On March 31, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council annulled the Istanbul municipal elections in which the opposition had defeated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The decision was not a surprise. For more than a month, AKP stalwarts as well as the Turkish press, which is almost completely dominated by Erdogan, had been laying the groundwork for this reversal by claiming irregularities and alleging all kinds of mischief by ballot handlers. And this is not the first time that the AKP has resorted to chicanery to get the electoral results it wanted. In the 2017 constitutional referendum, which replaced a parliamentary system with the current presidential one, Erdogan managed to reverse a defeat at the polls through last-minute ballot stuffing and other means of cheating.
But there is something different about this intervention. Unlike in 2017, it took more than one month of intense public pressure from Erdogan for the election council to overturn a perfectly legitimate election—it was a process for all to see, AKP supporters and opponents alike.
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