Turkish elections mired in dispute over DEM candidate’s certificate

Turkey’s March 31 local elections witnessed nationwide protests and political turmoil following the controversial annulment of Abdullah Zeydan’s municipal certificate, ultimately leading to its reinstatement amid widespread outcry and pressure from supporters and opposition partiesThe aftermath of Turkey’s March 31 local elections was marked by nationwide demonstrations and escalating political tensions, largely centered on the contentious annulment of Abdullah Zeydan’s municipal certificate.Zeydan, candidate of the Kurdish-focused DEM Party, secured a decisive victory with a significant margin of votes with 55 percent in Eastern province of Van. However, the Turkish Supreme Board of Election (YSK) revoked his certificate, citing concerns over his eligibility due to a previous conviction on terror charges.This decision, made at the request of the Ministry of Justice just two days before the election, led to widespread outcry and accusations of political interference.Despite receiving only 27 percent of the votes, the mayoral seat was awarded to AKP candidate Abdulahat Arvas, fueling further controversy and protests.Protests over the certificateProtests initially erupted in Van and spread to other cities, prompting a heavy-handed response from authorities, including the use of tear gas and water cannons. The Van Governorship imposed a ban on all forms of gatherings and activities including an entrance to the city, further exacerbating tensions. Bitlis and Siirt Governorships also imposed bans and curfews in some districts.Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced the detention of 89 individuals for their involvement in protests, while opposition parties condemned the decision as an ‘usurpation of the will’ of the electorate.The opposition parties CHP and TİP members went to Van to demonstrate solidarity despite the ban. CHP leader Özgür Özel and CHP’s popular Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu supported Zeydan with statements.YSK re-evaluated the decisionAmid ongoing protests and pressure, the YSK re-evaluated its decision and reinstated Zeydan’s municipal certificate upon appeal by the DEM Party.The reversal was met with relief and satisfaction among supporters, with DEM Party officials attributing the outcome to the perseverance of the Kurdish people and democratic public opinion.As tensions subside, calls for electoral integrity and respect for democratic principles remain at the forefront, emphasizing the significance of upholding the will of the electorate in Turkey’s political landscape.”

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