New İstanbul election is a matter of survival, Bahçeli says

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Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on Sunday said he views holding a new mayoral election in İstanbul as a matter of survival, BBC Turkish service reported.

Speaking at a gathering of his party’s provincial chairmen and mayors, he claimed the country’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has before itself a “historic duty.”

“The YSK cannot remain indifferent to the ballot box fraud in İstanbul. It cannot play with Turkey’s destiny,” Bahçeli said, in reference to allegations put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with which he allied himself for the local elections of March 31.

“A fair conclusion regarding fraud claims supported by three suitcases full of documents is the YSK’s historic duty,” Bahçeli said.

On March 31 the AKP lost the İstanbul mayoral election by a small margin to the opposition nominee, Ekrem İmamoğlu.

Its demands for recounts in several districts stalled the process for weeks before İmamoğlu was certified as the new mayor last Wednesday.

On Saturday the AKP petitioned the YSK, asking it to cancel the İstanbul election on the basis of thousands of voters who were purged from public service via government decrees and who were registered as voters there.

The YSK recently decided to prevent elected mayors from taking office if they were previously removed from public service, and AKP officials subsequently brought up the issue of the voting rights of purge victims.

On the other hand, Bahçeli reacted to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call to leave the election debates behind and to focus on economy and security issues in a nationwide unity that he referred to as the “Turkey Alliance.”

“We don’t know what the president meant by ‘Turkey Alliance.’ But we believe in the ‘Public Alliance,’ we believe in defending our national survival to the end,” Bahçeli said, referring his party’s election alliance with the AKP.

“There’s no such thing as a countrywide alliance. Our alliance is with the AKP,” he said, adding that Erdoğan’s comments have led to “question marks” on their part.

He also said the loss of large cities such as İstanbul and Ankara should not be interpreted as distrust on the part of the voter base in the Public Alliance and that the opposition’s success should not be overrated.

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