WASHINGTON - The United States said Tuesday that a "healthy democracy" with transparent elections is in Turkey's own interest, after authorities annulled the Istanbul mayoral election following the defeat of the ruling party.
The State Department, without directly criticizing the election body's decision, said that free elections were "a fundamental pillar in any democracy."
"We expect a free, fair and transparent electoral process to be fully respected by all involved so that the will of the voters is acknowledged in the results," a State Department spokeswoman said.
"A healthy Turkish democracy is in the interest of Turkey and its partners, including the United States, and helps ensure a stable, prosperous and reliable ally," she said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor with Islamist roots who has led Turkey since 2003, saw his bloc suffer its first defeat in 25 years in the country's largest city during the March 31 vote. A recount confirmed the opposition candidate's narrow win.
Erdogan's Justice and Development Party refused to accept the result and on Monday, the electoral authorities annulled the result, with a new vote scheduled on June 23.
Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States but Erdogan has had an uneven relationship with Washington, where officials have been uncomfortable with his threats to strike US-allied Kurds in Syria, his often fiery denunciations of Israel and his mass crackdown on journalists and perceived critics since a failed 2016 coup bid.