Istanbul’s election rerun: A blow to democracy in Turkey?

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On June 23, people will head to the polls in Istanbul to vote for their mayor. But this is no ordinary vote. This is a rerun, one steeped in controversy, and widely characterised as a power grab by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The first election on March 31 was won by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) but with a razor-thin majority.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) complained of “irregularities” and won the right to a rerun, a decision which the opposition says is undemocratic, and which even former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has criticised.

But Senior AK Party member Harun Armagan defended the move, describing it as the right decision.

“[There] were unauthorised people appointed as ballot box officers … there were irregularities in vote counting sheets, which in the law clearly says that in these sorts of cases, if it’s impacting the final result of the election, it goes to a rerun.”

Mustafa Akyol, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Centre for Global Liberty and Prosperity described the rerun as a stain on Turkey‘s democracy.

He said the fact that some people at the ballot box were not government officials doesn’t prove any misdeed.

“There are independent scholars who don’t see any reason, any legitimate reason for the cancellation of the elections … it’s just a technicality, and that technicality is not used to cancel other elections across Turkey,” Akyol said.

In this week’s Arena, we debate democracy in Turkey.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.

Source: Al Jazeera

Istanbul’s election rerun: A blow to democracy in Turkey?

On June 23, people will head to the polls in Istanbul to vote for their mayor. But this is no ordinary vote. This is a rerun, one steeped in controversy, and widely characterised as a power grab by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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