Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey reinstates Abdullah Zeydan as Van Mayor, reversing decision of local council to hand over mayorship to losing AKP candidate

VAN, Turkey — In a significant turn of events, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) of Turkey reinstated Abdullah Zeydan (Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party, DEM) as the Mayor of Van on Wednesday. Zeydan had been denied his mayoral license by the local electoral board despite securing victory in the elections by a substantial margin, handing the mayorship to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP). Zeydan had received over 55% of vote, while the AKP candidate received just over 27%.

Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki, the DEM Party representative to the YSK, announced the council’s decision to overrule the Van Provincial Electoral Board and grant Zeydan his mayoral license. The decision, passed by a 7-4 vote, came after the YSK deliberated on the DEM Party’s objection against the local electoral board’s ruling.

Tiryaki emphasized the finality of the YSK’s decisions, asserting that there is no avenue for further objection, as the YSK’s rulings are not subject to review by the Constitutional Court (AYM), leaving no room for appeal beyond the council’s decision.

The announcement was met with jubilation among supporters of the DEM Party, with thousands flocking to the party’s provincial building to celebrate the reinstatement of Zeydan.

However, the reversal has sparked its own political controversy, particularly among members of the AKP. Following the initial decision, thousands took to the streets in protest. Speaking at an iftar program, Erdogan labeled protestors “provocateurs” and “terrorists,” accusing them of undermining peace and stability in the region.

In contrast, Hayati Yazıcı, Deputy Chair and Head of Political and Legal Affairs for the AKP, initially hailed the YSK’s decision as the “right decision,” describing previous events surrounding the mayoral election in Van as a “state of insanity.” However, he later deleted the tweet, indicating potential discord within the party regarding the matter.

As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the YSK’s decision will impact the political landscape in Van and beyond, and whether it will lead to further escalation or pave the way for reconciliation.