President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday slammed Western countries for their reaction to the decision to rerun the Istanbul mayoral election, questioning their overwhelming interest in a country's domestic affairs. "If everyone mobilizes from Europe to America for the election of a mayor, it is probably our right to look for other things behind it," Erdoğan said during an iftar, the fast-breaking meal, program held for Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members of Parliament in the capital Ankara.
Erdoğan questioned why Europe and America are so interested in Istanbul revote but not in canceled elections in Austria and Belgium or how U.S. President Donald Trump won the 2016 elections despite receiving 3 million fewer votes than his opponent.
He said votes cast during the March 31 polls in favor of the AK Party were stolen and re-holding the election would attract worldwide attention.
"They are all interested in Istanbul. Why?" he said.
"There are those who stole the votes on one side, while on the other side, there are those who protect the national will," he added. Millions of Turkish voters cast their ballots nationwide in the March 31 local elections to choose mayors, city council members and other officials for the next five years. Elections in Istanbul saw the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu awarded the certificate of the election, with only a 13,729-vote lead over his rival, the AK Party's Binali Yıldırım. The decision was followed by lengthy discussions and objections by the parties demanding a do-over election due to irregularities and unlawfulness. After the elections, the AK Party submitted an extraordinary objection to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Maltepe Municipality and Büyükçekmece Municipality two weeks ago to cancel and redo the Istanbul municipal election. The renewed mayoral election will be held on June 23. The YSK said its decision to annul the polls was based on unsigned result documents from the election and on some ballot box officials not being civil servants.
Meanwhile, the YSK has decided to cancel the municipal elections in the Demirci town of Gülağaç district in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray.