CHP files appeal with YSK for alleged rigging in capital

March 31, 2014, Monday/ 18:32:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Based on unofficial figures, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has won Sunday's local elections in Ankara with a very narrow margin, though the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) filed an appeal alleging vote rigging.

“The number of CHP votes on the list delivered to the Supreme Election Board [YSK] is 70,000 less than the figure indicated by our own ballot counts,” Zeki Alçın, CHP Ankara provincial chairman, told Today's Zaman on Monday.

AK Party candidate Melih Gökçek won the mayoral seat, based on data from 99 percent of the ballot boxes in Ankara province, by receiving 44.7 percent of all valid votes in Ankara, while the CHP's candidate, Mansur Yavaş, garnered 43.8 of the vote. The CHP will file an appeal with the YSK on Tuesday for alleged rigging after going through all the ballot box results in its hands.

The difference in votes between the two candidates in the local elections in Ankara is less than 30,000, with the AK Party having received 1,405,135 of the votes based on unofficial data, while the CHP's candidate received 1,378,546 votes.

The CHP was hoping to unseat the ruling party's incumbent mayor, Gökçek, who has been governing the city since 1994. Following the neck-in-neck struggle in the capital on Sunday night, during which tension rose from time to time due to claims of rigging, the CHP's Yavaş said they would review the results for any possibility of vote rigging.

In answer to reporters' questions asking if he would file an appeal against the election result, Yavaş said very early on Monday morning: “We will seek our rights. We will seek even one single vote [cast for CHP].”

During a press meeting held at around 6 a.m. on Monday, Gökçek dismissed claims that the AK Party was involved in any rigging of the ballot box.

Maintaining that he won the elections against a coalition of forces, Gökçek said: “If there is any rigging, it was already carried out at the ballot boxes. Those who are involved in rigging are truly dishonorable. The AK Party is not as improper as to resort to that [kind of thing].”

Yavaş announced on his Twitter account on Monday that the CHP has been working to determine what violations and interventions took place during the election process in Ankara. Apparently concerned that there may have been some form of rigging, Yavaş said, “The will of Ankara's voters is unfortunately not reflected in the result.”

“While the results of a metropolitan city like İstanbul became clear hours ago, it is scandalous that the election results in Ankara were not officially registered until [Monday] morning,” the CHP candidate added.

Districts outside the city of Ankara, though part of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality as they are within the capital's provincial borders, had quite a significant role in the AK Party candidate's probable victory.

In the 16 so-called “outer” districts, or towns, of Ankara, the ruling party won 14 of the municipalities while the CHP won none. Gökçek received nearly 150,000 more votes, which represent nearly 5 percent of all the votes cast in Ankara province, than the main opposition party candidate in the outer districts.

Based on a law that was passed in 2012, those who reside in the outer districts of metropolitan cities were able to vote for metropolitan city mayoral candidates for the first time.

In an effort to increase its chances in the capital, the CHP nominated Yavaş, a center-right and nationalist political figure who had run as the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) mayoral candidate in Ankara in the previous local elections. With Yavaş, the CHP, which had obtained 31.5 percent of valid votes in the last local elections in 2009, has significantly boosted its voter support in the capital.

In the elections in Ankara, the MHP received 8 percent of valid votes, the Grand Unity Party (BBP) 1.5 percent, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) -- a sister party of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which nominated mayoral candidates in Turkey's western provinces in place of the BDP -- 0.7 percent and the Felicity Party 0.5 percent.

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