The dubious decision to cancel the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election win by opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, in the absence of compelling evidence that the vote was not free or fair, has interfered with the democratic right of millions of voters.
On May 6, Turkey’s Higher Election Board cancelled the Istanbul result, with a re-run now scheduled for June 23. The Board had initially acknowledged İmamoğlu as the winner on April 17, after recounts in many districts. Since it first became clear that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s candidate Binali Yıldırım had been defeated, Erdoğan and his allies repeatedly claimed that the election was flawed.
The board has yet to present any credible evidence that the Istanbul election was not fair and does not represent the will of the people. As the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly noted, election reviews must be fair and objective, leading to a reasoned decision, with safeguards to prevent any abuse of power by the reviewing authorities. But the board’s decision appears arbitrary and politically motived and as such undermines voters’ right to express themselves freely in elections, a right protected under the European Convention on Human Rights.
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