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Erdogan hails ruling to rerun disputed Turkey mayoral race
By Clyde Hughes
MAY 7, 2019

A new vote in late June will determine the winner of Istanbul's mayoral race. Photo by Sedat Suna/EPA-EFE


May 7 (UPI) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised a decision Tuesday by election officials to rerun a mayoral race in Istanbul that saw the narrow defeat of a candidate from his party.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, won the April voteover Erdogan's Justice and Development Party candidate Binali Yildirim. It was one of several races in large Turkish cities won by the CHP. Monday, Turkey's Supreme Election Council ruled that some election officials in Istanbul were not civil servants, as required by law, and set a new vote for June 23.

Yıldırım will run again and Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya will act as mayor until the new vote produces a winner.

"[The ruling], which will remove the shadow over Istanbul election, [is] an important step in strengthening Turkey democracy," Erdogan told membersof his party at a meeting in Ankara Tuesday.

"We sincerely believe organized corruption, utter lawlessness and irregularity occurred in the Istanbul elections."

Erdogan said the irregularities marred the Istanbul mayor's race.

"The will of nearly 15,000 people who voted for [Yildirim] has been usurped, with mistakes far greater than by any other party," Erdogan added.

The president's party has furnished proof it says shows organized corruption and irregularities.

 

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Different when we do it: Why re-voting is ‘dictatorship’ in Turkey & ‘unity’ in EU
Published time: 7 May, 2019 17:27

Different when we do it: Why re-voting is ‘dictatorship’ in Turkey & ‘unity’ in EU

(L) Turks vote at polling station in Istanbul © Reuters / Osman Orsal, (R) UK workers counting ballots in Brexit referendum © Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne

The decision to rerun a local mayoral election in Istanbul has sparked scathing criticism in Brussels — ironically, from none other than the EU’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

Tweeting about the move, which was branded a “coup” by a Turkish opposition newspaper, Verhofstadt said it highlighted that Turkey was “drifting towards a dictatorship” and offered “full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights.” Along with the verbal slap on the wrist, he said that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, talks on Turkey joining the EU are “impossible.”

The irony in Verhofstadt’s outrage, is that the EU itself has a long history of either totally ignoring referendum votes — or just making people vote again until the ‘correct’ result is achieved. But that, of course, does not make the EU a dictatorship. It’s still a “bastion of hope, freedom, prosperity & stability” (as per another recent Verhofstadt tweet). Twitter users wasted no time in pointing out the “irony” and “hypocrisy.”

“How dare [Erdogan] use EU tactics,”
one irritated Verhofstadt follower responded, with another saying that the UK itself was currently “battling for its democracy” — a reference to EU officials (including Verhofstadt) who have frequently voiced their personal opposition to Brexit and the ‘Remain’ factions in Britain who have been calling for a re-run of the 2016 referendum.
What like your full support for the UK battling for its democracy you mean. Hypocrite doesn't begin to describe your duplicity!#Brexit
— Adrian Archer (@speakeezie) May 7, 2019
How dare he use EU tactics
— Pieter De Mol (@Lypto) May 7, 2019
The irony.
— Gareth Icke 🇵🇸 (@garethicke) May 7, 2019
While there may be at least some merit to the idea of Brexit referendum re-run after two years of failed negotiations and with more accurate information now available to British voters, the idea of simply re-doing EU-related votes is hardly a one-off.
Maybe Verhofstadt should take a trip down memory lane.
France voted ‘no’ to accepting a proposed ‘EU Constitution’ by 54.9 percent in 2005, but the outcome was ignored. The same thing happened in the Netherlands, which rejected it by 61.5 percent. The ‘EU Constitution’ was later repackaged into the Lisbon Treaty and presented to the French parliament where it was adopted, without being put to the people this time (much easier!).

This new Lisbon Treaty was then rejected by Irish voters in 2008, once again sending Brussels into meltdown mode, as the pact needed to be ratified by all member states before taking effect. So, of course, they made some tweaks and asked people to vote again — and got the ‘right’ result the next time. It wasn’t the first time Ireland was asked to re-vote after giving the wrong answer, either. The country also rejected the Nice Treaty in 2001 and accepted it in a second vote a year later.

Greece voted overwhelmingly to reject severe austerity measures desired by the EU in 2015 in exchange for a multi-billion euro bailout. Not long after, under pressure from Brussels, the country’s government agreed to implement even harsher methods — totally ignoring the will of the Greek people.

EU Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt © Reuters / Eric Vidal
But way before all that in 1992, Danes, displeased with plans for a single currency, common European defense policies and for joint rules on crime and immigration, rejected the Maastricht Treaty — and were asked to vote again.

Ironically, many European voters voted ‘no’ to these treaties because they were worried that the EU would be turned into some kind of undemocratic superstate where the wills of individual countries and people would be ignored. Being forced to vote until you give the ‘right’ answer doesn’t exactly put those worries to bed. It’s part of the reason why the British voted for Brexit in the first place.

Then there’s Catalonia, where pro-independence leaders were thrown in jail for their role in holding an independence referendum in 2017. One tweeter scolded Verhofstadt and other EU leaders for believing that they have some “moral authority” over Turkey while abuse of pro-independence forces in Catalonia is ignored. “Our leaders are still in prison because they let citizens vote,” they wrote.
EU politicians consider they have a moral superiority over Turkey which allows to give lessons of democracy to them.
Meanwhile Spain abuse over #Catalonia is ignored and silenced.
Our leaders are still in prison because they let citizens vote.
Not in Turkey but in the EU. pic.twitter.com/AkfAGu4GEZ
— Pinxauves (@pinxauves) May 6, 2019
With a history like that, maybe it’s a bit rich for Verhofstadt to be going around lamenting the lack of democracy in other countries

 

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Turkey Opposition to Contest Istanbul Election as Re-Run Draws EU Criticism
07 May, 2019

Ousted Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The main opposition in Turkey announced on Tuesday that it will field the same candidate in the re-rerun of the Istanbul election.

The election board ordered a re-run of the city election in a ruling that has spooked investors and drawn European criticism.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had pushed hard for the re-run after his ruling AK Party (AKP) lost control of Turkey’s biggest city in the March 31 poll and he welcomed the High Election Board’s (YSK) decision. But one opposition leader compared it to a “civilian coup” and Germany urged Ankara to respect democracy.

Highlighting the risks of a re-run for Erdogan and the AKP, several smaller opposition parties who fielded their own candidates in the March poll signaled that this time round they could back the ousted mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a potentially significant move given the tight margin of his original victory.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the YSK of betraying voters’ trust and giving in to AKP pressure.

“Since you want to renew the elections so badly, do so as much as you want. We will emerge victorious every time,” he told CHP lawmakers in the Turkish parliament.

Meral Aksener, leader of the nationalist IYI (Good) Party, which formed an alliance with Imamoglu’s secularist CHP for the March vote, said the ruling by the seven judges of the YSK harked back to the era of Turkish military coups.

“The YSK’s decision amounts to a civilian coup which surpasses the days of the uniformed coups,” she said.

The decision helped push the lira to its weakest level since Oct. 5, when it was just emerging from last year’s currency crisis that saw 30 percent of the currency’s value wiped out. It stood at 6.1467 to the dollar at 1412 GMT.

With investors questioning Turkey’s commitment to both the rule of law and economic reforms during a recession, bonds and stocks were also sold off on Tuesday.

Erdogan brushed aside investors’ concerns, telling his AKP lawmakers on Tuesday that the YSK decision was “an important step to strengthen our democracy”.

“There was organized corruption and full illegality in the Istanbul mayoral elections,” said Erdogan, adding that former prime minister Binali Yildirim would again be the AKP candidate for the post.

Imamoglu’s surprise victory in the March poll - by a margin of just 13,000 votes, out of 10 million eligible voters - had marked the first time in 25 years that Erdogan’s AKP or its Islamist predecessors had failed to win control of Istanbul.

But Erdogan - who started his political career in the 1990s as mayor of Istanbul - said that, in such a tight race, “no one has the right to say they won” and repeatedly challenged the result.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said the YSK move was neither transparent nor comprehensible, adding that basic democratic principles and transparency were paramount.

"This outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan's Turkey is drifting toward a dictatorship," Guy Verhofstadt, a European Parliament lawmaker and the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, said on Twitter.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, described the decision on Istanbul as a "seismic event in Turkish history."

"Turkey has been holding free and fair elections since the 1950s," he told The Associated Press. "Never before has a party refused to accept the outcome of the election... This goes against 70 years of accepted tradition."

"(Erdogan) is saying 'let's vote until the governing party wins," he added.

Manfred Weber, the leading conservative candidate seeking to head the European Union's executive branch, told n-tv television in his native Germany that he would end EU membership negotiations with Turkey if he's elected later this month.

Weber, the center-right European People's Party candidate and front-runner to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, said Turkey's decision on the Istanbul vote was "incomprehensible for many of us in Europe."

"In the past years, Turkey has unfortunately alienated itself from the values of Europe," he said. "For me, that means ending the accession talks between Turkey and the European Union."

Turkish opposition newspaper Birgun branded the decision a "coup" and argued that justice in the country has "been suspended."

The dispute over the Istanbul election and the economic uncertainty come as the United States threatens to impose sanctions on Turkey, a NATO ally, over its planned purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.


 

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Deposed Istanbul mayor vows ‘revolution’ for democracy: AFP interview

AFP
May 09, 2019
  • Ekrem Imamoglu said this will be a revolution once they “carry it to its conclusion”
  • Top Turkish election body annulled the results of the latest mayoral elections
ISTANBUL: Istanbul’s deposed mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who was stripped of his election victory this week, told AFP he would lead a “revolution” for democracy ahead of next month’s vote re-run.

“What we are doing now is a fight for democracy and mobilization for democracy. It will of course be a revolution once we carry it to its conclusion,” he told AFP.

Turkey’s top election body annulled the results of the March 31 mayoral vote on Monday, after the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged “serious corruption” in the count.

“The seven members (of the election body) will take their place in history like a black stain, but it is our responsibility to correct it. We keep on fighting,” said Imamoglu, who represents the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).



 

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Turkish finance minister hopes damage to economy from currency crisis will be short-lived
May 12, 2019 / Updated an hour ago

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish economy will hopefully overcome the impacts of a currency crisis last year with just two quarters of contraction, Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Sunday.

Speaking to broadcaster CNN Turk, Albayrak referred to Turkey’s performance during the 2008 global financial crisis when the economy contracted for four consecutive quarters.

“Turkey will get over this period hopefully with two quarters (of contraction) and with minimum negative impact,” Albayrak said.

“The first quarter data year-on-year and when compared to last quarter, technically rebalancing, recovery process will extend more than two quarters.”

The Turkish economy contracted 3.0 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2018, after a currency crisis knocked some 30 percent off the value of the lira last year. Economists expect two more quarters of contraction year-on-year.

The lira has lost as much as 15 percent against the dollar this year, with the latest weakness driven by investor concerns over Monday’s decision to re-run a mayoral election in Istanbul that had been narrowly won by the main opposition party.

Turkey’s central bank moved to tighten policy by funding the market through a higher rate and took additional liquidity steps, while state banks sold dollars to boost the local currency.

Albayrak said Turkish inflation and employment will improve this year, while the government will implement necessary reforms without hesitation.

“Turkey, especially inflation and employment, will reach a better, more balanced place till the end of 2019,” Albayrak said.

The meeting between the finance minister and U.S. President Donald Trump was constructive, hopeful and positive, Albayrak said, adding that Trump will most probably pay a visit to Turkey in July.



 

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Family-owned Turkish car parts maker Teklas up for sale: sources
May 15, 2019
Arno Schuetze, Can Sezer

FRANKFURT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s Teklas Kaucuk, which supplies parts to carmakers such as General Motors and BMW, has put itself up for sale in a deal that could value the company at as much as 700 million euros ($782.9 million), two people familiar with the matter said.

The family-owned company - which makes rubber hoses and metal tubes mainly for use in air conditioning, brakes and electric vehicles - is being advised by JP Morgan on the sale.

Teklas, which also supplies parts to Daimler, FCA, Toyota and Volkswagen, was not immediately available for comment. JP Morgan declined to comment.

Teklas tried to sell itself in 2015 but the plan stalled after a diesel emissions scandal at Volkswagen prompted investors to assess the impact of the scandal on Teklas’s sales. The cars sector has seen high-profile deals in recent months including KKR’s acquisition of Magneti Marelli and ZF Friedrichhafen’s purchase of Wabco for over $7 billion.

But there has been less interest in companies producing technology tied to conventional combustion engines, which are under pressure as the industry shifts towards electric vehicles.

The auction for Teklas is expected to kick off soon with potential suitors such as Cooper Standard and Bain Capital being targeted, the sources said.
Teklas is expected to be valued at seven to eight times its annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of about 80-90 million euros, suggesting it could fetch between 600-700 million euros, the sources said. Founded in 1970s, Teklas Kaucuk is based in the western Turkish province of Kocaeli. It employs more than 4,800 people at sites in Europe, Mexico and China.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Can Sezer in Istanbul, editing by Deepa Babington


 
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