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Turkey elections: Kilicdaroglu vows to run again if the results are cancelled

Erdogan rival isn't afraid of a rerun if high election board cancels elections, as it did in Istanbul's 2019 mayoral vote
Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman and presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu at a rally in Kocaeli, on 28 April 2023 (AFP)
Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman and presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu at a rally in Kocaeli, on 28 April 2023 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish opposition’s joint presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has vowed that he would participate in a rerun of elections if Turkey’s high election board cancels results because they are too close to call. 

Turkey has presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 May and polls indicate the race is neck and neck. Experts believe the elections are the biggest challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule in 20 years.

Speaking to BBC Turkish, Kilicdaroglu said Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had been behaving as if elections in Turkey aren’t a natural state of affairs but a western-backed coup attempt. 

“The government itself has chosen 14 May as the date of elections,” Kilicdaroglu said. “I don’t trust neither Soylu nor the high election board.” 

Kilicdaroglu said the high election board “illegally” cancelled the Istanbul mayoral elections in 2019 when the results showed the incumbent, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was losing by a very narrow margin, citing electoral fraud. 

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Ekrem Imamoglu of Kilicdaroglu's Republican People’s Party (CHP) subsequently won the rerun Istanbul mayoral election with a landslide

“They could do whatever in their power, they could go to a rerun of the elections,” Kilicdaroglu said. “The high election board could cancel it this time as well. We aren’t afraid of running again. We would only want to have the race in just conditions and rules.”

Kilicdaroglu said CHP members would man every polling station and safeguard the voting process. “We have been training our friends for a year and a half,” he said. “There would also be lawyers in each polling station, intervening if there is a need.”

Kilicdaroglu added that he trusts more than five million first-time voters - the youth - to vote Erdogan out. “Youth is the biggest parameter,” he said. “They want freedom, they want jobs.”

Polls indicate that Erdogan’s People’s Alliance is likely to retain the majority in the parliament even if Kilicdaroglu wins the presidency, as forecasts show may happen.

International investors and diplomats are concerned that a split parliament and presidency could create a stalemate that makes governing difficult.

Kilicdaroglu said there would be no such issue if he won the presidency but not the parliament.

“We don’t have the majority in Istanbul and Ankara provincial assemblies even though we have won the mayoral offices,” he said. “We, after all, govern these municipalities without any problem."

He added that, if he wins, he wouldn’t conduct a witch hunt against Erdogan and his associates. 

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