Istanbul vote recount continues

The mayoral candidate for Turkey’s main opposition on Friday claimed to be leading the polls in Istanbul, as the recounting was continuing in some districts of the country’s largest city.

“The recounting is over in 17 districts with a current difference of 18,742,” Ekrem Imamoglu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party told local Fox TV in an interview.

“We won the election,” he declared, citing the calculations made by his party, adding the number of the invalid votes were certain and they cannot change the overall result.

Unofficial results from Sunday’s local elections showed a tight race between Imamoglu and Binali Yildirim, the candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former prime minister and former speaker of parliament.

The Supreme Election Board said on Monday that Imamoglu led the polls by some 25,000 votes.

The AKP challenged the results in all the 39 districts of Istanbul, as party officials spoke of a neck-and-neck race between the two candidates.

Speaking to journalists in Istanbul, Yildirim said the latest margin was as low as some 18,000 from the initial figures.

“We can see the margin changing … Whoever gets the certificate of the election board, he will be the mayor,” he said. “We are of the opinion that the situation will change once the recount is over.”

Yildirim declared victory hours after Sunday’s vote, sparking criticism from the opposition as premature.

In the meantime, the ruling party lodged a complaint for the cancellation of the election result in Istanbul’s Buyukcekmece district.

“It is just an application for cancellation there,” said Ali Ihsan Yavuz, AKP’s deputy chairman. “There is no such request for the whole Istanbul.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also the AKP leader, said the Supreme Election Board has the final say on the dispute.

Police have boosted security around the Taksim Square at central Istanbul, with dozens of police buses deployed around the neighboring Gezi Park.

The AKP lost two other big cities, the capital Ankara and the western city of Izmir, in the municipal elections.