"Those who tried to usurp the national will were caught in the act," said Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, referring to the irregularities and unlawfulness that caused the cancellation of the March 31 municipal elections in Istanbul. Releasing a statement on Twitter late Saturday, Altun evaluated the Supreme Election Council's (YSK) decision to renew the municipal elections in Istanbul and said, "The elections will be renewed to clear this stain on our democracy." Criticizing the opposition because of their reaction to the YSK's decision to cancel and renew the municipal elections in Istanbul, Altun said, "Their voice is high because of their guilty conscience." Altun also shared footage of a video that explains the YSK's decision in detail.
The video focuses on the question, "Voters cast four different votes on March 31: Metropolitan municipal mayor, district municipal mayor, district council and mukhtar. So, why did the YSK only cancel the elections for metropolitan municipal mayor?"
The video explains the answer under two articles. First, the YSK only investigates objected cases. The ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) extraordinary objection was only about the metropolitan municipality elections. Second, the YSK's decision is shaped by whether the objected votes affect the election results. The extent of objected votes was enough to directly affect the results in the Istanbul metropolitan municipality elections.
Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in local elections to choose mayors, city council members and other officials for the next five years.
Elections in Istanbul, where the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu was awarded the certificate of the election with only a 13,729-vote difference, were followed by lengthy discussions and objections by parties demanding a do-over election due to irregularities and unlawfulness.
After the elections, the AK Party submitted an extraordinary objection to the YSK for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Maltepe Municipality and Büyükçekmece Municipality two weeks ago to cancel and redo the Istanbul municipal election. The AK Party's extraordinary objection concerned four categories: Irregularities in vote count sheets, serious discrepancies between the number of registered voters and the number of voting ballots, some balloting committee chairmen and members not being government employees as required by law and ineligible voters participating in the polls.
According to the AK Party, there were significant discrepancies among tabulated results with wet signatures and stamps, showing the first vote record, the final record and the total number of votes submitted to the YSK. There were also empty or unsigned voting records and irregular registrations of voters.
Last Monday, the YSK ruled seven against four in favor and annulled the results of the mayoral election in Istanbul. The renewed election will be held on June 23. The decision was based on unsigned result documents from the March 31 election and on some ballot box officials not being civil servants.
The top election body also decided to file a criminal complaint against the chairman and members of the district election council, election managers and other people responsible for appointing polling staff unlawfully.
AK Party to review observer lists for upcoming elections
Meanwhile, the AK Party attempted to revise its list of observers in ballot boxes. Accordingly, the AK Party will increase the number of its observers and prefer experienced observers who have knowledge about election law. During last week's party meeting led by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of the most important topics was about observers officiated in elections. According to reports submitted to Erdoğan, the lack of experienced observers during the March 31 elections was one of the reasons that irregularities in the polls could not be detected.
It is also reported that Ziya Bülent Öner will be the new president of the Istanbul provincial election council following current President Müberra Gürdal's demand to retire.
MHP determines campaigning strategy
Preparing for the upcoming municipal elections in Istanbul, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) designated its campaign strategy. MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli has instructed party members to reach all voters.
Some 1.7 million who did not go to polls during the March 31 elections and 300,000 voters whose votes were counted invalid will be the priority for the MHP during the campaign period.
Supporting AK Party candidate Binali Yıldırım under the umbrella of the People's Alliance, the MHP will inform citizens about Yıldırım's projects and plans for Istanbul.