Istanbul Revote Bid Gets Boost as Prosecutors Start Probes

(Bloomberg) -- The Turkish prosecutor’s office has begun investigating alleged irregularities in Istanbul’s municipal election, a development that could tip the scales in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for a revote in the city.

More than 100 local election officials suspected of fraud have been summoned for questioning, and 10 already have been interrogated, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Investigations have been launched in three districts of the city -- Maltepe, Kadikoy and Atasehir, AA reported.

The integrity of the March 31 vote has been questioned by Erdogan’s ruling AK party, which was unseated in the country’s largest city. It has asked Turkey’s top electoral body, known as the YSK, to nullify the election and hold a revote because of alleged widespread fraud.

The decision by the prosecutor’s office to investigate the fraud claims is “somewhat ominous for Istanbul election re-run decision,” Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London, wrote in a clients’ note. It “builds mood music around idea that there was fraud in the elections, and makes it harder for the YSK to ignore these claims.”

On Monday, the board is expected to start reviewing the evidence put forth in support of a new poll. Erdogan has told AKP members that he is confident the party would win in a revote, even though some are skeptical, according to senior AKP officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Last month Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition CHP was installed as mayor after winning by a margin of 14,000 votes in a city of 10 million voters.

“I can say that there will be criminal complaints against all kinds of people,” AK Party’s Deputy Chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz told reporters in Ankara. “This was not an isolated or accidental event.”

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