During a hurried midnight taxi ride between Istanbul’s two major airports, the faces of Racep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s authoritarian president, and Binali Yildrim, Turkey’s former Prime Minister and Istanbul mayoral candidate, gazed down at me from every lamppost and roadside hoarding. I had been invited to Turkey by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) as part of a local election observation mission, and the omnipresent sight of these two moustachioed members of the ruling AK Party served as a reminder – if reminders were needed – that the elections would not occur on a level playing field. Turkey has been described by academics as a kind of hybrid electoral-authoritarian country. Its citizens are used to voting regularly and in relatively large numbers, even as the media and important state institutions are effectively under the tutelage of President Erdogan and his AKP. Recent plebiscites, including the 2017 referendum on switching to an anti-democratic presidential system, were marred by accusations of fraud and voter manipulation, but Turkey’s rulers nevertheless have cause to fear them. It is, despite President Erdogan’s best efforts to stack the deck in his own favour, possible for him to lose an election.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Turkey.
Turkey’s ruling party said Sunday that it will appeal for a full recount of all votes cast in Istanbul’s mayoral election, which the opposition narrowly won in a major setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the March 31 local elections, the opposition not only prevailed in a tight race in Istanbul’s financial and cultural center, it also took control of Ankara, the capital. Erdogan’s party, which held both cities for decades, contested the results, claiming the elections were “tainted.” The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won the right for a recount of votes previously deemed invalid. On Sunday, Ali Ihsan Yavuz, an AKP deputy chairman, said the party would appeal to the country’s top election authority for a total recount of votes in Istanbul’s 38 districts, not just of ballots that were canceled.
Turkey: Erdogan’s party challenges election results after apparent defeat in Turkey’s cities | The Washington Post
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party said Tuesday that it had submitted challenges to election results that showed its candidates had been defeated in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s largest cities, in local elections two days earlier that dealt a rare setback to Erdogan at the ballot box. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has repeatedly prevailed in elections since 2002 and was the leading vote-getter on Sunday. But its losses in major cities — including Istanbul, Turkey’s financial capital — were a significant symbolic defeat for Erdogan and threatened to weaken his powerful party machine, analysts said. The election came in the midst of an economic downturn that had focused voter anger on Erdogan’s handling of the crisis, analysts said. Urban voters may have also bristled at his caustic campaign rhetoric, they added, and his frequent attempts to link his political opponents to terrorism. The AKP challenged vote tallies in all of Istanbul’s 39 districts, where Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayoral candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, was leading by about 25,000 votes.
Political parties in Turkey are crying foul after thousands of unlikely voters appeared on the electoral roll. Among the oddities are many first-time voters over 100 years old – and one aged 165. Opposition parties also said they had discovered more than 1,000 voters registered at a single apartment. The discovery comes ahead of local elections in March, in which President Erdogan’s AK Party may face its toughest political challenge in years. Turkey has faced economic stagnation in recent months, and the value of its currency is significantly lower than it was a year ago. That has led to speculation that the dominant AKP could lose several key cities, including the capital, Ankara. Opposition parties now say that voter lists are being manipulated.
Last month, an election in Turkey kept President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his coalition in power. But experts are puzzled by the results — and caution that the election was not free and fair. Videos of ballot stuffing — mostly in eastern Turkey — in favor of pro-Erdogan parties went viral after they were posted online on election day. And both partisan and nonpartisan reports showed that allegations of electoral irregularity came primarily from eastern Turkey. An opposition-written report stated that 68 percent of the election day violations took place in the east — areas where Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) experienced significant gains. A report published by an independent fact-checking organization largely supports these claims.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has signaled the bringing of local elections forward to November 2018 instead of March 2019, on the condition that opposition parties agree as the process requires a constitutional amendment. “I think holding local elections on the first or second Sunday of November, which corresponds to a date between Nov. 1 and 8, would be appropriate,” AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş told the Demirören News Agency on July 2. “But three parties have to agree on that,” he added, in reference to the need to amend the constitution in order to change election dates. Elitaş’s statement followed comments from Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, who fueled discussions by saying that the first year after a local election is usually “wasted” on preparations and orientation, and it would be better to spend the last months of the year on such preparations.
Turkish voters gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a decisive victory in national elections on Sunday, lengthening his 15-year grip on power and granting him vastly expanded authority over the legislature and judiciary. The election was the first to be held since Turkish voters narrowly approved a referendum last year to give the president — once a largely ceremonial role — sweeping executive powers. Mr. Erdogan will also have a pliant Parliament, with his conservative party and its allies having won about 53 percent of the vote in legislative elections on Sunday. Mr. Erdogan has overseen a crackdown on lawyers, judges, civil servants and journalists under a state of emergency declared after a failed coup two years ago. His critics had portrayed Sunday’s election as their last chance to prevent Turkey from becoming an authoritarian state.
The president begins his day with prayer, usually between 5 and 6 a.m. depending on when the sun rises. Then he spends half an hour on the treadmill and lifts weights. He has a light breakfast since he suffers from diabetes and drinks tea from the Black Sea. He reads memos from his advisers and the newspapers, usually the Islamist ones along with Sabah, which is run by a relative. At 8 a.m. Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets his chief of staff and his spokesman to go through the agenda for the day. At 11 a.m. he makes his way to the presidential palace. Erdogan lives with his wife in a villa on the grounds of the palace, which is located on a hill on the outskirts of Ankara. He had the palace built in 2014 and it’s a fortress that encompasses several buildings with a total of 1,000 rooms, a bunker and a clinic. Visitors are collected by car and brought by tunnel to the respective wing. The building is symbolic of the reign of this president: terrifying, powerful, isolated, controlled.
Turkey: Election watchdog removes key ballot security measure ahead of critical polls | Stockholm Center for Freedom
With four days to go until snap elections on June 24, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has decided to remove a requirement that ballots be stamped by polling station officials in order to be considered valid and counted, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily. The YSK wrote in a recent circular that envelopes required the official stamp to be considered valid except in cases where there was no stamp from polling station officials but that the YSK emblem, watermark and stamps from the district electoral board were visible. According to a report by online news outlet Ahval, Twitter user Mahir Durmaz explained that the ballot box officials’ stamps were key to the security of the vote.
Turkey could stage another election if the alliance between President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and the nationalist MHP party cannot form a majority in parliament after Sunday’s vote, the MHP leader said. Turks will vote on June 24 in presidential and parliamentary elections that will herald a switch to a new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year. Polls suggest Erdogan’s alliance could narrowly lose its parliamentary majority, while the presidential vote may also go to a second round run-off.
A leaked video of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vote sparked fears of possible vote rigging ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24. The video shows Erdogan telling party officials to secure majorities on ballot box monitoring committees to “finish the job in Istanbul before it has even started.” In the video, Erdogan also comments on the pro-Kurdish HDP: “I can’t speak these words outside [publicly]. I am speaking them with you here. Why? Because if the HDP falls below the election threshold, it would mean that we would be in a much better place.”
A soft-spoken parliamentarian, it’s easy to overlook Fatma Benli in a busy cafe until she starts recalling the disinformation campaign that nearly derailed her election bid two years ago. The small room we’re in begins to shudder as the sitting MP for the ruling AK Party passionately explains that she could have lost because of fake news and online narratives. “There was fake news circulating on every major social media platform,” the 44-year-old told Al Jazeera, reeling off a litany of examples where she and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were repeatedly attacked in spurious social media posts. “Facebook, Twitter, it came from all sides.”
“Who has a smartphone?” Muharrem Ince, the presidential nominee of Turkey’s main opposition party, asked the crowd during a recent rally in Denizli. “Now, you all start broadcasting,” he roared. “There is the government media, but there is also the people’s media.” Ince’s call for social media streaming of his rally was not just an effort to reach out to a wider audience, but also a protest. Ahead of Turkey’s critical presidential and parliamentary polls on June 24, opposition parties face an unprecedented blackout by mainstream television channels, almost all of which are now in pro-government hands. Although Ince and his Republican People’s Party (CHP) still manage to get some coverage, others like the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are virtually banished from the screens, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an omnipresent figure.
Pressure against Turkey’s largest pro-Kurdish bloc is nothing new. But with under three weeks left before the June 24 presidential and parliamentary polls, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is being squeezed more tightly than ever. HDP officials charge that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to prevent the HDP from winning the minimum 10% of the vote needed to take seats in the parliament so as to ensure its continued dominance of the legislative body. Under Turkey’s convoluted rules, the first runner-up in a given electoral district picks up a party’s seat if it fails to scale the national barrier and in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, that would likely be the AKP. An estimated 80 seats are at stake.
Turkey’s main opposition parties are expected to announce a broad electoral alliance before general elections in June, a step that could pose a significant challenge to the dominance of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party. The deal, which will include the country’s largest secular and nationalist opposition blocs, is likely to dilute the Justice and Development party’s (AKP) control of the legislature and overcome the regulation that any party must receive 10% of the national vote to win a seat in parliament, a rule that has reinforced Erdoğan’s long-running majority. The coalition is expected to be formally announced on Thursday and will include the Republican People’s party (CHP), the İyi (Good) party, the Islamist Saadet party (SP) and the Democrat party (DP). The secularist CHP is the largest opposition grouping in parliament, and the newly formed İyi is composed primarily of nationalists. The İyi leader, Meral Akşener, has declared herself a presidential candidate.
A fledgling Turkish political party founded by a popular former interior minister will be allowed to run in snap June elections, authorities ruled on Sunday, after 15 parliamentarians from the main opposition switched parties to bolster its ranks. Turkey’s top electoral board ruled the nationalist Iyi (Good) Party would be allowed to participate in the polls, a board official said. President Tayyip Erdogan this week called for snap parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, more than a year earlier than scheduled. The announcement wrongfooted the troubled opposition and brings Erdogan closer to his long-sought goal of a presidency with sweeping executive powers.
President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called snap elections for June 24, saying economic challenges and the war in Syria meant Turkey must switch quickly to the powerful executive presidency that goes into effect after the vote. The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since an attempted coup in July 2016. It was extended by parliament on Wednesday for another three months. In 15 years of rule as prime minister and then president, Erdogan has transformed a poor, sprawling country at the eastern edge of Europe into a major emerging market. But Turkey’s rapid growth has come been accompanied by increased authoritarianism, with a security crackdown since the failed coup leading to the arrest of tens of thousands.
As fraud allegations over last year’s constitutional referendum continue to simmer, Turkey’s government last week rushed through parliament far-reaching changes to electoral rules, fueling fears over the integrity of upcoming polls and sparking opposition calls for an election boycott. In the April 16, 2017, referendum, which narrowly approved amendments concentrating power in the hands of the president, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) made a last-minute decision to accept ballots that did not bear the stamp of election officials, openly flouting the law and casting a lasting shadow on the outcome. Many believe the validation of unstamped votes tipped the result in favor of the “yes” camp, which won by 51.4%. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in February that the actual result was 51.2% in favor of the “no” camp.
Barring a snap poll decision, Turks will vote in municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019. The presidential vote will mark the official transition to the new governance system approved in the referendum, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan standing out as the prime contender. The new electoral rules, passed by parliament March 13, grant legitimacy to unstamped ballots. This indicates that the government has indirectly acknowledged that the law was violated in the referendum that fresh controversy over the fairness of elections is now guaranteed for next year’s polls.
Soon after unstamped ballots became legal, misgivings deepened even further over reports that the YSK had printed 500 million ballot envelopes for a 55-million electorate.
Full Article: Turkey’s electoral overhaul sparks boycott calls.
Turkey’s parliament has approved a set of changes to the country’s electoral laws that critics say are aimed at helping President Recep Tayyip Erdogan consolidate power and could lead to election fraud. The changes were approved Tuesday after a tense, all-night session that saw altercations between nationalist and main opposition lawmakers. Turkey faces elections next year, when Erdogan will need to secure 51 percent of the vote to remain at the helm. The changes would allow Erdogan’s ruling party to enter a formal alliance with the nationalist party, permitting the smaller party to gain parliamentary seats even if it fails to pass the 10-percent electoral threshold. In turn, Erdogan would secure the nationalists’ continued support.
Turkey’s opposition said on Thursday new electoral regulations proposed by President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies could open the door to fraud and jeopardise the fairness of 2019 elections. Under a draft law submitted to parliament on Wednesday, security force members will be allowed into polling stations when invited by a voter, a measure the government says will stamp out intimidation by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The bill also grants the YSK High Electoral Board the authority to merge electoral districts and move ballot boxes to other districts. Ballots will be admissible without the stamp of the local electoral board, formalising a decision made during a referendum last year that caused a widespread outcry among government critics and concern from election monitors.