ANKARA (Reuters) – A small Turkish communist party withdrew its mayoral candidate for next month’s Istanbul election in favour of the main opposition party, which won a initial March election by a narrow margin, calling the decision to re-run the vote “unlawful.”
The Istanbul mayoral candidate of the TKP, Zehra Guner Karaoglu, received 10,492 votes in the March 31 local election, which was won by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu. He beat President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party candidate by some 13,000 votes but his victory was annulled.
“The government didn’t like the results of the election won by Imamoglu and cancelled it. This is a tyranny that exceeds the accustomed patterns of politics,” Karaoglu told her party’s newspaper after submitting her withdrawal application to the election board.
On Thursday, another small centre-right party also said it would not take part in the June 23 election. So far at least three parties have withdrawn candidates though not all have explicitly backed the CHP.
The decision by election authorities to re-run the Istanbul vote has fuelled concerns about an erosion of democracy and unnerved financial markets, including the already ailing lira currency.
Imamoglu’s surprise victory in March was the first time in 25 years that Erdogan’s AKP or its Islamist predecessors had failed to win control of Istanbul.
Imamoglu was declared mayor last month after weeks of wrangling over the result and a partial recount, but his mandate was revoked when election authorities ruled on May 6 that there had been widespread irregularities.
Ten days after annulling the election, Turkey’s High Election Board faces a barrage of questions from opposition parties, which say there was no legal basis to annul the result.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay)