Istanbul voters head back the polls to elect city’s mayor after annulled March results

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Istanbul voters head back the polls to elect city's mayor after annulled March results

Voters in Istanbul head back to the polls for a second time this year to decide the city’s mayor.

A critical vote in March resulted in a victory for the main opposition but was later annulled.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports.

There is a saying in Turkey, “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.” That is how important this election is. Ruling Istanbul brings power, both political and economic.

The city, with a population of over 15 million people, has a budget of approximately four billion U.S. dollars – this accounts for about a third of the country’s economic output.

On March 31st during the local elections, Ekrem Imamoglu, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP candidate won the Istanbul Mayoral election with a narrow margin of 13,000 votes. He was running against AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim.

Following the March elections, AK Party officials and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan objected to the results, citing voting irregularities that affected the outcome. Last month, Turkey’s High Election Board made a controversial decision and annulled the Istanbul mayoral election.

The candidates disagree on the justification of the annulment.

AK Party candidate Yildirim insists they did not opt for a rerun either.

Imamoglu is a rising star for the CHP who previously served as Mayor of Beylikduzu, one of Istanbul’s districts while AK Party’s Yildirim has held high-level positions in Turkey including the prime minister and parliament speaker.

Many analysts say the defeat in Istanbul was perceived as a major blow to Erdogan. He had campaigned intensely in the run-up to the March elections with daily rallies across Turkey stating that the election was a “matter of survival” for Turkey.

Turkey’s economy will likely once again play a role in voters’ decision-making process. The Turkish Lira lost about a third of its’ value last year and Turks are feeling the pain. The results will also depend on key Kurdish voters who make up about fifteen percent of eligible voters in Istanbul.