Ankara: Turkey’s secular main opposition party said Tuesday it would contest a narrow poll win in Ankara mayoral elections claimed by the Islamic-rooted party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, citing “irregularities”.
The Turkish capital was a key battleground and symbolic prize in Sunday’s municipal elections, in which Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) scored sweeping victories nationwide despite a corruption scandal and recent street protests.
“We will appeal today at the Supreme Electoral Board over hundreds of ballot boxes in Ankara,” lawmaker Aykan Erdemir of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in Ankara, Turkey’s second biggest city.
“More than 1,000 volunteers have been working for over 48 hours to check data at the party headquarters. We have evidence of irregularities.”
Ankara was purpose-built in the Anatolian interior as the national capital by the secular founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
According to provisional official results, the AKP mayor Melik Gokcek, who has held the post for two decades, won the city by a wafer-thin margin of 44.79 per cent against 43.77 per cent for CHP candidate Mansur Yavas.
Allegations of election fraud have circulated on social media, including a photo which purportedly shows ballots in a garbage heap, and there have been complaints over electricity blackouts in some areas during the evening vote-count.
Yavas wrote on his Twitter account Monday that a recount “will reveal the truth”.
Supreme Electoral Board president Sadi Guven told reporters: “This is a legal process. We will wait and see. Citizens and political parties should remain calm.”
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has blamed other power outages in part of Turkey Sunday on weather conditions and said, “those who lost the elections should not use power cuts as an excuse for their defeat”.
In the case of Ankara, where in some areas ballots were counted by candle-light, the minister also blamed a cat that had slipped into a power distribution unit and presumably was electrocuted when it caused a short circuit.
“I am not joking, friends,” he said. “A cat walked into a transformer unit. That’s why there was a power cut. It’s not the first time this has happened.”