As Turkey has been taken hostage by the all-consuming election debate after the opposition candidate’s surprise win in Istanbul, leaders of the two opposition parties rejected the government’s crying afoul of election results and sharply criticized the president’s meddling in the process.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu and nationalist IYI (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener held a joint press conference on Wednesday amid wrangling and jockeying over the contested vote in Istanbul.
Aksener strongly criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks about the Istanbul vote. The president on Monday described the opposition victory as the work of “organized crime.”
“If you failed to maintain the election security, it was you who were the responsible [for that],” Aksener said, rebuffing the government’s complaints about “rampant irregularities and disturbances” during the election in Istanbul.
The narrow victory of Ekrem Imamoglu, the joint candidate of the CHP and IYI Party, sparked a harsh reaction from Erdogan’s party, which still refuses to concede the defeat. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with the backing of its ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), appealed the vote and demanded vote recount in many parts of Istanbul.
When the recount did not produce the result it sought, the AKP pressed for a full recount in entire Istanbul, a demand dismissed by Turkey’s election authority, the Supreme Election Council (YSK).
Still, the battle is ongoing.
Kilicdaroglu, speaking along with Aksener at the press conference, called on the YSK to do its job.
“You have been in power for 17 years; it has been in your control to hire public workers, the assignment of public servants for 17 years; and there have been elections for 17 years and your claim was always that: The ballot box security in Turkey has been flawless,” Aksener said.
“When the AKP wins [an election], the ballot box security is perfect, but when another party’s nominee wins against the AKP, then there is “voter fraud,” the IYI Party chairwoman said, questioning the argument of the ruling AKP.
She also rejected Erdogan’s lamentations about the elections. It was the government, Aksener noted, that managed the entire voting process.
Kilicdaroglu laid out a list of warnings and demands as the YSK convened at an emergency session to deliver a decision about the AKP’s musings of a potential re-run of the election in Istanbul.
“Turkey has been locked in Istanbul election. They are seeking to cancel the election. We are drifting away from democracy,” the CHP leader said. “We are trying to finalize the election according to the demand of one man. A bleak picture, which the entire world is watching.”
“The YSK must comply with laws and to its rulings previously taken in the face of similar situations.”
The chief core of his argumentation was that the YSK must refuse to bow to political pressure, it needs to reject the flawed argument and justifications of the government in its quest to cancel elections. The YSK, Kilicdaroglu noted, must show to whole Turkey that it was not a proxy element of the ruling party, but an institution of Turkey that follows the rules and laws, not political whims of the government.