Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently come to the defense of his party’s plan to orchestrate a complete recount for the recent mayoral elections in Istanbul. His response comes just days after the opposition party took control of Ankara, the nation’s capital, as well as Istanbul, in recent elections. Erdogan claims that “almost all” of the voting was marred by irregularities. While the majority of Turkish provinces have already declared the winners in their elections, Istanbul’s had a much tighter race and thus a winner has not yet been officially declared. Reports of unregistered votes and other irregularities have been coming in from both parties throughout the voting process. According to Al Jazeera, the unofficial results of the mayoral race in Istanbul claim that CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu will be victorious over AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim, despite Yildirim being the favorite in the polls and for the overall election.
“As a political party, we have determined that certain organized acts were carried out”, said President Erdogan in a recent statement. “There is an element of robbery in all of this. There was some theft at the ballot box”. Despite the suspicious activity in the election, Imamoglu has already begun to claim his victory. In a statement, he encouraged Turkey’s election board to “do its job” and officially confirm the victory for him and his party. Erdogan retaliated by stating “nobody has the right to put on airs of victory in a city of more than 10 million voters with a 13,000-14,000-vote lead”. This all came to light as Erdogan left for Moscow on Monday to meet with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
In recent years, tampering with elections has become a prominent topic of conversation in several areas around the globe. This current example in Turkey comes after the United States government spent the better part of two years determining if Russia had interfered in any way with its 2016 presidential election. With new advancements in electioneering technology appearing almost every year, it is not surprising that more and more elections are suffering from outside interference in order to influence their outcome. If “organized crime” really did place in these Turkish elections, a full recount of the votes should absolutely take place. The decision as to who wins an election should not be made by any outside entities. Because of this, President Erdogan’s comments on the matter should be applauded. His desire to make sure the election results are legitimate instead of taking the easy way out comes as a breath of fresh air in a time where elections are becoming more and more unhinged with each passing year. Imamoglu practically declaring an early victory in the Istanbul mayoral race should not be the standard when it comes to fraudulent elections. Furthermore, both parties claim that they will accept the results from the countries official electoral board, something that American political parties should take note of.
President Erdogan has held power in Turkey for over 16 years. His supporters rally behind him by saying he has overseen a tremendous period of economic growth and prosperity. But while the economy has been on the rise, Erdogan also has his fair share of critics. They claim that the president has “undermined democracy by purging decent people”. All of this comes 3 years after the failed military coup that the Turkish government blames on an American based Turkish priest. In the months leading up to this mayoral election, Erdogan campaigned hard for the candidates in his party. He claimed that this election was a “fight for the nation’s survival”. But in light of the countries recent economic downturn, the election quickly became a test of support from the AK party members.
It is unclear what will happen once the official results of the Istanbul mayoral election are announced. Although the election in question was not on the national level, it should come as no surprise if more scandals like this start to happen in more prominent elections down the road. Elections are becoming much easier to influence than previously imagined, and the fear of an illegitimate victor should strike a chord of fear into the hearts and minds of those planning to vote in the future. The security of a vote should always be of the utmost importance, and the people of Istanbul deserve better.
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