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Erdogan's AKP demands full recount in Istanbul

April 7, 2019

Officials from Turkey's ruling AKP party have described "numerical mistakes" in local elections in major cities across the country. In Istanbul's mayoral race, the opposition candidate holds a paper-thin lead.

AKP supporters hold up a banner showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Image: picture-alliance/AP/E. Gurel

With the rule of Turkey's biggest city at stake, the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party on Sunday called on the country's top electoral board to recount all votes cast in Istanbul's mayoral election.

The current tally of the March 31 vote puts opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu ahead of the AKP's Binali Yildirim  by a slim margin. Imamoglu garnered 48.79 percent of the vote compared to Yildrim's 48.51 percent.

The AKP has already triggered recounts in several of Istanbul's 39 districts, but the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said that their candidate, Imamoglu, was keeping his lead as the challenges went on.

On Sunday, AKP deputy chairman Ail Ihsan Yavuz said his party was trying to "eliminate numerical mistakes."

Read more: Recep Tayyip Erdogan: The sultan of 21st-century Turkey 

EU under fire

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday lashed out at the EU for upholding "double standards" after European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans called on the AKP to accept local election results.

"While Turkey is determined to pursue reforms, the EU authorities' arbitrary and hasty statement, which were made without respect to the legal process, are most unfortunate," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Read more: Erdogan tested by Turkey's local elections

Erdogan's home turf

Losing the position of mayor of Istanbul would mark a heavy blow to the ruling party and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish strongman was born in Istanbul, a city of 15 million people that serves as Turkey's economic center. He served as the city's mayor before entering national politics.

The AKP's demand for a full recount in Istanbul comes only a day after a party spokesman pledged they would accept the outcome regardless of the result.

"At the end of the day, we will accept the final result regardless of whether it is to our advantage or disadvantage," AKP spokesman Omer Celik told foreign reporters in Istanbul.

The conservative AKP has been in power in Turkey since 2002. While it claimed more votes than any opposition party in recent polls, its performance fell short in large urban centers. Many observers interpret the results as a sign of weakening support for President Erdogan following a year of economic crisis and inflation.

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ls,dj/amp (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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