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Turkiye to re-run vote in eastern city of Van after opposition candidate wins mayoral seat

April 3, 2024 at 6:31 pm

A man holds the ballot paper during municipal elections at a polling station in, Turkiye on 31 March, 2024 [Cemal Yurttaş/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish authorities have prevented the mayoral candidate of a pro-Kurdish party from taking up his post in the eastern city of Van, instead announcing a re-run vote after the defeat of the ruling party in the local elections.

In the results of the past week’s municipal elections across Turkiye, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) faced defeat on many local fronts, losing control of around a dozen major cities in the country. One of those cities was Van in the east, with Abdullah Zeydan – the candidate for the pro-Kurdish DEM Party – winning 55.5 per cent of the vote compared to 27.2 per cent for the AKP candidate.

According to a document from Van’s election board, however, the mayoral seat is set to be given to the AKP candidate, instead, with the DEM party saying that, only two days before the vote, the Turkish Justice Ministry had reversed a court decision that restored Zeydan’s right to stand for election, essentially making his candidacy null and void.

READ: Turkiye has elected youngest Mayor in its history

In a statement this week, DEM called the ruling “unlawful”, stressing that those actions “flout the will of the people of Van” and demanding that the “wrong decision must be reversed immediately”. The Party further demanded that “the government honour the mandate of the people!”

DEM’s co-chair, Tuncer Bakirhan also accused 6,541 “illegal voters” of having been utilised to prevent the Party from winning the vote in Sirnak province, without specifying on the details or tactics of the alleged illegal voters.

Bakirhan revealed that his Party is launching legal challenges to election results in the eastern provinces based on those same accusations. AKP spokesperson, Omer Celik, however, said those challenges were judicial matters and that the government could not intervene.

The overturning of the election result in Van have sparked severe condemnations by the opposition parties in Turkiye as well as citizens throughout the country, resulting in protests and clashes with police in Istanbul, Van, and other major cities.

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