Opposition claim on unsealed votes incoherent

Published 26.04.2017 01:06
Updated 26.04.2017 01:48

It has been one week since Turkey's referendum, however, we are still discussing the results instead of how the new process will run. I think the Supreme Election Board (YSK) has not given a good account of itself in this process. The Republican People's Party (CHP) wanted to stymie the proposed constitutional changes since the very beginning and thought to appeal to the Constitutional Court to cancel the package for a while after it had been approved by Parliament. As such, taking advantage of the YSK's half-baked statement on the night of the referendum, the CHP declared that it repudiated the referendum results, which was a black mark not only for the CHP, but also for Turkey's election track record.

In fact, the YSK decided to render unsealed ballots valid in all elections in the recent period. Certainly, from a rigid legalist point of view, the council can be criticized for not enforcing the law, however, this is not a practice special to the April 16 referendum. The CHP and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) appealed to the YSK for counting unsealed ballots in various provinces after the June 7, 2015 parliamentary elections and their application was accepted.

Let me give some figures regarding the referendum. There were 166,000 supervisors from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), 157,000 from the CHP, 133,000 from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), 64,000 from the HDP and 56,000 members from the Felicity Party (SP), who served as polling clerks on a total of 156,000 ballot boxes across Turkey on April 16.

Parties distribute polling clerks based on the power of provincial organizations and their strongholds. These figures indicate that individuals from various parties served and security officers ensured security for each ballot box across Turkey.

In short, how could it be possible to manipulate ballot boxes and produce votes? Could it be possible by closing the eyes of thousands of representatives from various parties? Moreover, the "Vote and Beyond" group, which is known for its opposition to the AK Party, declared that they found a 0.01 percent difference between the announced referendum results depending on their own supervisors' reports.

As opposed to what is claimed, this will not affect the results any way, given that the number of "yes" votes was 1.4 million more than no votes. However, the "Vote and Beyond" group says there was a shift in 100,000 votes.

On the other hand, the results clearly show that the number of "yes" votes in 60 out of 81 provinces was 3 to 4 percent lower or higher than the votes for the AK Party in the Nov. 1, 2015 parliamentary elections. Also, the number of "yes" votes in 17 provinces was the same as the number votes for the AK Party, while there was, more or less, a one-point difference in votes in 18 provinces compared to the Nov. 1 elections. The reminding provinces, namely 21 provinces, with the exception of four, are in the eastern or southeastern Anatolia regions.

There is almost no MHP presence in the southeastern provinces. The number of "yes" votes considerably increased in comparison to the results of the Nov. 1 elections. It increased by 19 points, rising from 13 to 32, in Hakkari, and by 17 points, rising to 51 points from 34 points in Muş, which reveals the Kurds' undeniable contribution to the results. It is frequently said that the AK Party has lost its strength in Istanbul and Ankara because of the "no" votes in these two cities. However, figures do not indicate this. Let us revisit the results of the Nov. 1 elections. The AK Party had received 49 percent of the vote in Ankara and 48 percent of the vote in Istanbul. Likewise, the support for "yes" votes in Sunday's constitutional referendum was 49 percent in Ankara and 49 percent in Istanbul.

The AK Party and the MHP administration prepared together for the referendum, but the total vote for the CHP, MHP and HDP was 49 percent in Ankara and Istanbul in the Nov. 1 elections. The "no" voting rate was 51 percent in Ankara and Istanbul in the referendum. Coupled with the 2 percent support of the SP, this voting rate is completely coherent. In short, the AK Party is not on the decline. I think the ruling party should attach importance to cities and it would be useful to return to its policy of integration with the world and adopt the strategy of rapprochement with the U.S. and the EU. On the other hand, these results do not point to a decline, ruralization or a breakaway for the AK Party.

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