Turkey‘s High Election Board (YSK) will recount local election votes in eight districts of Istanbul following objections, YSK head Sadi Guven said on Wednesday after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) appealed results across the city.
The main opposition, which had earned a narrow victory over the ruling AK Party according to initial results, had appealed the recount, prompting the YSK to halt them late on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Guven said that the recount would mostly focus on invalid votes, adding that this was not an unprecedented decision.
Appeals to the YSK were still ongoing, he said.
But the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candiate that had been projected to win,Ekrem Imamoglu called on the YSK to declare him mayor. He said that while there could be minor errors in vote counts the outcome will not change.
Initial results published by state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday showed that the ruling AK Party lost the mayoral elections in the country’s three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – in a stunning election setback for Erdogan.
The country’s election board gave the parties three days to file their complaints, setting the deadline for Wednesday.
Anadolu’s unofficial data showed Imamoglu had won the heated mayoral race in Istanbul, the country’s largest city and economic centre, with 48.8 percent of the vote, while the AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim got 48.5 percent.
In the capital, Ankara, unofficial results showed that CHP candidate Mansur Yavas had garnered 50.9 percent, with the AK Party nominee Mehmet Ozhaseki trailing with 47.2 percent.
In the third-largest city, Izmir, the CHP candidate, Mustafa Tunc Soyer, was leading with 58 percent votes while AK Party’s Nihat Zeybekci stood at 38.5 percent.
Sunday’s local elections were held against the backdrop of Turkey’s first recession in a decade while its lira currency lost as much as 40 percent of its value against the US dollar last year.
The race in Istanbul was particularly tight, with both AK Party and the CHP claiming victory in Istanbul’s mayoral election.
Yildirim claimed early on Monday that he had won the race by around 4,000 votes, but later admitted he was 25,000 votes behind Imamoglu from CHP, which is part of the Nation Alliance.
He, however, said that his party would object to the results over invalid votes.
“There are 31,136 ballot boxes [in Istanbul]. If there is one invalid vote in each ballot box, it makes 31,136 votes in total, which is more than the difference [between the two sides],” he said, adding that there are some 315,500 invalid votes in the polls.
Sezgin Tanrikulu, a CHP MP from Istanbul, said that although Imamoglu won the race in Istanbul, the election board was waiting for the objection period to end for legal reasons to declare the official winner.
“There have been complaints about certain ballot boxes. Legally, the party objecting should show a valid reason in doing so over each particular ballot box. Therefore, the number of boxes votes will be recounted in is limited,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The government should respect the results.”