Istanbul election criticisms just like Gezi, says defeated Yildirim

The defeated Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for Istanbul, Binali Yildirim has claimed that there are “critics coming at us from all over the world” due to Istanbul election re-run as they did during Gezi Park protests, T24 news portal reported on Thursday.

Yildirim, who is also a former prime minister, lost the mayoral election in Istanbul on March 31 by a slight margin to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu.

Following the defeat, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP filed many appeals to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK).

This included an extraordinary objection that called for the annulment of the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election and for it to be held again. The AKP alleged that there were voting irregularities.

The election board ruled in favor of AKP on Monday and revoked Imamoglu’s official mandate as the elected mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

The Turkish state came under strong criticism, in the aftermath of the move, from politicians, legal experts, journalists, businessmen and intellectuals in Turkey and across the world who regarded the YSK decision politically-motivated.

“Unfortunately, they [critics] are coming at us from all over the world, as they did during the Gezi [Park] insurrection,” Yildirim said at an iftar dinner, held by the Pendik Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (PESIAD) on Thursday.

The Gezi Park protests, which broke out in 2013 over an urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park, spread across the country and turned into a riot against the increased authoritarianism of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule.

Eight people were killed and about 8,000 more were injured during Turkish police action to quell the protests.

Commenting on the Istanbul mayoral elections, Yildirim argued: “I’m the real victim here. I’m being honest about this.”

“No matter how you look at it, a vote theft took place [in Istanbul], that’s loud and clear,” he said.

Elaborating on the election fraud claims, he said, “There are 123 voting reports with no signatures, but the votes recorded on those reports were considered valid during the counts. The YSK saw this theft and canceled [the election].”

The YSK previously said the legal basis for the re-run decision was 3,755 polling officials’ not being public servants, as is required by the law.

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