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Election authority ruling will be decisive for People’s Alliance: AKP official

A senior official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said that Turkey’s top election authority’s decision on whether to repeat local elections in Istanbul will serve as a breaking point for the People’s Alliance, Diken news portal reported on Tuesday.

The AKP submitted an extraordinary objection to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) and demanded to cancel and redo local elections in Istanbul, Turkey’s business hub after initial results showed main opposition candidate as the new mayor of the city.

The governing AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) participated in the local elections on March 31 as the People’s Alliance, which they formed for the presidential election in 2018.

Tension has built up between the two parties’ members as some AKP officials argued that being in an alliance with MHP is the main reason for the defeat in major cities in local elections.

The AKP official told Reuters that YSK’s decision on Istanbul votes will determine the future of the alliance with MHP. He added that MHP has not made as big a contribution to the ruling AKP as the party officials anticipated in the local elections.

“MHP makes AKP seem more like a ‘nationalist’ party than it actually is, and AKP was hard hit by that. [MHP leader] Bahceli’s announcement that they received 18.81 percent of votes in total has deepened the crack between the allied parties. After all, this alliance has been a huge benefit to MHP, even more than it has been to us,” the official further stated.

Previously, Bahceli announced that his party received 18.81 percent of the votes, while official results showed that the party gained only 7.31 percent in total. He also claimed that People’s Alliance’s votes are 60.42 percent while it was only 51.64.

“We submitted an appeal to YSK in order to repeat local elections in Istanbul. This decision [of YSK] will determine the future of the alliance. It’s not easy to say what the alliance will evolve into, but the crack [between the parties] has become visible,” AKP official underlined.

Another official from the ruling AKP emphasized that some senior party members think ill of the alliance with MHP. “Unpredictability of Bahceli makes things harder,” he added.

AKP’s mayoral candidate for Izmir, Nihat Zeybekci, previously argued that his party would have won in Izmir if it weren’t for the alliance with MHP.

An official from the MHP also told Reuters that his party will not be the one to end the People’s Alliance.  “This alliance is necessary for Turkey. There might be disagreements and
incompatibility between family members from time to time. We don’t want our
problems to grow,” he explained.

If the two parties end their alliance, the ruling AKP, which holds 291 of the 600 seats in parliament will need support from other parties to pass bills.

In the local elections, the ruling AKP lost several big cities including Istanbul, the city where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started his political career as a mayor.

The initial results of the Istanbul race showed 28,000 votes between AKP’s candidate Binali Yildirim and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Ekrem Imamoglu.

After several appeals to the YSK that led to a recount of almost 10 percent of the votes in Istanbul, the margin between the candidates dropped to 13,900.

The AKP then submitted an extraordinary objection and demanded a repeat of local elections in Istanbul. The YSK has yet to decide on the appeal.

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