Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayoral candidate for İstanbul Binali Yıldırım, who lost in the March 31 local election, claimed that polling station officials did not give the proper ballot papers to voters who appeared to be AKP supporters in order to make the party lose in İstanbul, Turkish media reports said.
Although the Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate for İstanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, was elected according to the results of the March 31 election, in a controversial decision on May 6 Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) decided to hold a new mayoral election in İstanbul.
The YSK made its 7-4 decision due to allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP lost the race in İstanbul.
Speaking to a group of people at a fast-breaking dinner in İstanbul’s Avcılar district on Sunday, Yıldırım elaborated on his earlier remarks suggesting that the CHP stole votes in İstanbul.
“They [polling station officials] looked at the voters. If they looked like AKP voters, they were not given the ballot paper for the İstanbul mayoral election. How do we know this? From complaints made on that day,” said Yıldırım in remarks that sparked ridicule and criticism on social media, with many questioning how it is possible to understand a person’s political choices by looking at their physical appearance.
On March 31 district mayors and city council members were also elected, and those votes came out of the same ballot boxes as those for the mayoral candidates. Many found the YSK’s decision to only cancel the İstanbul mayoral election controversial because the same polling officials monitored the election of district mayors and city council members.
In the meantime, CHP deputy Murat Emir refuted Yıldırım’s claims with official figures showing that more votes were cast on March 31 for the İstanbul mayoral election than the election of city council members, according to a report in the Sözcü daily on Monday.
He said a total of 8,866,614 votes were cast in the İstanbul mayoral election while it was 8,849,322 for city council members. “Yıldırım should stop ridiculing people’s intelligence. There can’t be such recklessness,” he said.