Turkey Election Ruling Deals Blow to Erdogan Istanbul Revote Bid

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s highest electoral body dealt a setback to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to hold a new vote for Istanbul mayor after his ruling party was unseated in the country’s commercial hub.

The lira erased losses, but only briefly, as news of the interim decision spread.

The AK Party had argued that about 15,000 people fired from state jobs in a crackdown following the July 2016 coup attempt shouldn’t have been eligible to vote in the March 31 election, but the board rejected that reasoning. It did, however, agree to investigate the AK Party’s claims that more than 41,000 ineligible voters and election officials participated in the vote.

It ordered local election authorities to share documents and information about the allegations before issuing its final, binding ruling.

The AK Party’s refusal to concede defeat in the city where Erdogan was born and rose to power has worried those who view it as a new threat to Turkey’s democratic foundations and political stability.

The lira briefly erased losses to rise 0.2 percent against the dollar immediately after the election board’s ruling but the gains were short-lived. The currency was trading slightly down at 5.8312 per dollar as of 4:01 p.m. local time in Istanbul.

The loss of Istanbul to opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu ended a quarter century of rule by Erdogan’s AKP and its predecessors. Opposition candidates won not only Istanbul, but also the capital, Ankara, as inflation and unemployment took their toll after a plunge in the lira pushed the economy into its first recession in a decade.

Imamoglu took office on April 17 after defeating AK Party’s Binali Yildirim, a former prime minister, by a slim margin of about 14,000 votes in a city with more than 10 million voters.

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