Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decried what he called “theft at the ballot box” on Monday after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost crucial votes in Ankara and Istanbul last week. The AKP has demanded a recount in Istanbul, Erdogan’s hometown.
“We are seeing that some organized crimes have been carried out,” the president told reporters before leaving on a trip to Russia. “There is an element of robbery in all of this. There was some theft at the ballot box.”
Erdogan also insisted that the difference between the two major candidates for mayor of Istanbul was too slight for anyone to claim a mandate. He said a difference of “13,000 to 14,000 votes” was not enough in a city of 15 million inhabitants.
Both candidates claim victory
AKP candidate and former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, and the opposition CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu, have both asserted victory in the race.
Critics at home and internationally have accused Erodgan of undermining democracy by demanding a recount, but the AKP has held fast to its demand.
The CHP called on the Supreme Electoral Council to remain impartial in its decision on whether or not to proceed with a recount.
In the capital Ankara, the council moved on Monday to officially hand the election to the CHP’s Mansur Yavas.
While the AKP received the most votes across Turkey, losses in the capital and the country’s main business hub signal a growing dissatisfaction with the AKP, particularly its crackdown on opposition voices in the wake of a failed coup in 2016.