Baku, Azerbaijan, April 5
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
A recent statement by Binali Yildirim, ex-speaker of the Turkish parliament currently running for mayor of Istanbul, that "the municipal elections are not a matter of survival," has not held up in light of the current realities. This is evidenced by the decision of the ruling party to appeal the results of the recent municipal elections in Turkey – something which clearly indicates that the municipal elections are, indeed, a matter of survival.
The municipal elections held on March 31 of this year can be considered to be one of the more significant events in modern Turkish history.
As it is known, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) landed a victory in the Turkish municipal elections overall, gaining 44.33 percent of the votes. However, according to preliminary data, the AKP lost to the Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul and Ankara.
Despite this, after the appeal of the election results in Istanbul, the Turkish Supreme Electoral Council did not issue a mandate for Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate from CHP, to become the head of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
It is far from the first time that doubts have been raised about the results of municipal elections in Turkey; and due to the principles of democracy being upheld in the country, all parties have the right to request the election results to be recounted.
Nevertheless, Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State, called on the Turkish authorities to recognize the results of the municipal elections.
Palladino said the US hopes that Turkey will recognize the legitimate results of the municipal elections, after the AKP appealed to the Supreme Electoral Council on the preliminary results of the election in Istanbul – which was won by the opposition candidate. Considering the currently strained relations between Washington and Ankara, this statement was seen by Turkish political circles as yet another attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
Though all remains well after the municipal elections in the country, the tension between the AKP and the CHP is still growing. This may lead to serious consequences that will be felt within the country.
It would be worth mentioning the events of May 28, 2013, when, under the pretext of the trees in central Istanbul’s Gezi Park being cut down, the city became flooded with supporters of the CHP, anarchists, communists, socialists, liberals, feminists, and LGBT activists taking to the streets.
Although the main goal of these groups was to isolate the then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the opposition did not put forward obvious political motives.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that in case the Turkish Supreme Electoral Council decides to revise the election results in favor of the AKP in Istanbul, CHP activists will call for demonstrations, during which a number of opposition parties will also support them.
Rufiz Hafizoglu, deputy editor-in-chief of Trend
Follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu