ISTANBUL (Reuters) - An opposition candidate announced on Sunday he was withdrawing from next month’s rerun of mayoral elections in Istanbul, in a move likely to aid the man who was declared the winner when the vote was initially held in March.
“I have resigned from DSP’s Istanbul mayoral candidacy as of today,” Democratic Left Party (DSP) mayoral candidate Muammer Aydin said on Twitter.
Ekrem Imamoglu’s surprise victory in March’s closely fought municipal election marked the first time in 25 years that President Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP or its Islamist predecessors had failed to win control of Istanbul.
Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was declared mayor last month, beating former prime minister and AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim after weeks of wrangling over the result and a partial recount.
Erdogan and the AKP then called for the election to be canceled, alleging widespread irregularities. The High Election Board ruled on Monday that the mayoral contest must be rerun on June 23.
Aydin, who has described the board’s decision as unlawful, attracted more than 30,000 votes when the election was first held on March 31. Imamoglu won by a margin of just 13,000 out of 10 million eligible voters.
It is not clear if DSP voters will support Imamoglu in the June vote but both parties have secular voter bases. However, several small parties have already signaled they could back him in protest at the decision to cancel the election.
The DSP said it would not field a replacement candidate in June, according to broadcaster NTV.
Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Giles Elgood