About a month and a half ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reportedly confident that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would emerge victorious from a rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul, which the main opposition’s candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, won by a margin of 13,000 votes on March 31. The pro-government daily Turkiye reported May 2 that, in meetings with AKP leaders, Erdogan advocated a do-over, saying, “Some colleagues believe the AKP will get less votes or lose if the election is repeated. … I believe 100% that we’ll win if the election is repeated.”
Four days later, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) did scrap the vote, ordering a fresh election on June 23. The council made the decision on grounds that the heads of 225 out of 30,000 balloting committees on duty at Istanbul’s polling stations were not public servants as the law requires. However, it found no evidence of “vote theft,” i.e., that those chairpersons doctored the numbers to make Imamoglu win. To use a soccer analogy, the opposition beat the government with an indisputable goal, but the government, unhappy with the result, had the match canceled over a technicality with an issue of the side referee's license.