An opposition candidate announced on Sunday he was withdrawing from next month’s re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul in a move likely to aid the man who was declared the winner when the vote was initially held in March, Reuters reported.
“I have resigned from the DSP’s Istanbul mayoral candidacy as of today,” Democratic Left Party (DSP) mayoral candidate Muammer Aydın tweeted.
Ekrem İmamoğlu’s surprise victory in March’s closely fought municipal election marked the first time in 25 years that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party or its Islamist predecessors had failed to win control of Istanbul.
İmamoğlu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was declared mayor last month, beating former prime minister and Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım after weeks of wrangling over the result and a partial recount.
Erdoğan and the AKP then called for the election results to be canceled, alleging widespread irregularities. The Supreme Election Board (YSK) ruled on Monday that the mayoral contest must be re-run on June 23.
Aydın, who has described the board’s decision as unlawful, attracted more than 30,000 votes when the election was first held on March 31. İmamoğlu won by a margin of just 13,000 out of 10 million eligible voters.
It is not clear if DSP voters will support İmamoğlu in the June vote, but both parties have secular voter bases. However, several small parties have already signaled they could back him in protest of the decision to nullify the election results.
The DSP said it would not field a replacement candidate in June, according to broadcaster NTV.