Doubts cast over the poll

The Supreme Election Council’s announcement that it would accept unstamped votes has given rise to claims of ‘fraud’ in the election in which both sides were neck and neck. The CHP has announced that two and a half million votes were tainted and it was objecting to 60% of the ballot boxes.

17 Nisan 2017 Pazartesi, 12:47

İklim Öngel
 
With Turkey giving approval by a hair’s breadth to the presidential constitution, the results were awaited with excitement until the very end at the CHP, which had assumed leadership of the ‘No’ campaign. Although ‘Yes’ prevailed by a hair’s breadth in Turkey overall, with ‘No’ winning in the three major cities, as it did in 17 of the 30 metropolitan cities, the results have been described as ‘tainted’; and the announcement by the Supreme Election Council that it would accept unstamped votes has been interpreted as meaning that a ‘Yes’ vote was secured fraudulently. Data pointing to the success in the three big provinces was indeed greeted with applause, whistling and slogans, but spirits were dampened with the last-minute decisions taken by the Supreme Election Council after the count was underway. Once ‘Yes’ had pulled ahead by a nose in the neck and neck struggle, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu convened an extraordinary session of his party’s Central Executive Board. At the poll monitoring centre set up by the CHP, meanwhile, there was a 45-minute interruption in the flow of Supreme Election Council data that was supposed to be instantly visible. Party officials drew attention to the halt in the supply of data from the Supreme Election Council without there being any problem in the CHP’s system and said the reason for the interruption would be investigated.
The CHP campaign was successful
Even if dismay has taken hold at the CHP following the poll results, considering that the party virtually waged the ‘No’ campaign on its own and given that Erdoğan only harmed himself by targeting Kılıçdaroğlu alone, and in view of the roughly 25% of the vote obtained by the CHP and the 10% obtained by the HDP in the last elections, it was concluded that the party’s campaign had achieved a considerable degree of success.
Extraordinary session of the Central Executive Board
Party officials made announcements in which they urged people not to leave the ballot boxes. The prevailing view at headquarters was that a state-guided ‘Yes’ operation had been conducted and that two and a half million votes were tainted, and the decision was taken to object to 60% of the ballot boxes. Both the Supreme Election Council’s decision that unstamped slips and envelopes would also be accepted, and complaints about citizens being denied access to classrooms during the count that was supposed to be held openly, accompanied by reports of opposition witnesses being evicted, have given strength to the view at headquarters that the poll may have been fraudulent. With the party engulfed in all these troubles, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu arrived at headquarters at around 21.15 hours and convened an extraordinary session of the Central Executive Board. At the poll monitoring centre set up by the CHP, meanwhile, there was a notable 45-minute interruption in the flow of Supreme Election Council data that was supposed to be instantly visible. Officials have said that the reason for this interruption would be investigated.
Excitement over the big cities
Referendum excitement gripped CHP headquarters from the morning hours. Volunteers took their places in the poll monitoring centre set up in the CHP’s party assembly salon. Following the opening of the ballot boxes, spirits were dampened with the announcement made by the Supreme Election Council that unstamped ballot slips and envelopes would also be accepted and the arrival of complaints about vote counting, which was supposed to be open, being conducted behind closed doors, giving rise to concerns that fraud would be resorted to. However, as time progressed, a boost was given to morale with ‘No’ moving into the lead in Istanbul, cited from the outset as being the most critical place, and with a neck-and-neck struggle going on in Ankara. Party officials and workers, who were monitoring the poll results from a giant screen, greeted ‘No’ moving into the lead as the ballot boxes were opened with great enthusiasm. With ‘No’ moving into the lead in the capital, one of the places where the ‘Yes’ block was most hopeful, the party faithful who had filled headquarters shouted the slogans to the accompaniment of applause and whistling, ‘We are Mustafa Kemal’s soldiers’ and ‘The day will come and times will change and the AKP will stand to account before the people’ and sang the Izmir march in unison. With party officials making periodic announcements in which they cautioned party workers not to leave the ballot boxes, the move into the lead by ‘No’ in the three big cities hugely boosted the exuberance at headquarters.
Anadolu Agency and Supreme Election Council manipulation
With the Anadolu Agency data that was being broadcast on television showing ‘Yes’ slightly in the lead, despite ‘No’ being ahead in the three big provinces, headquarters swung into action. CHP Deputy General Chair Erdal Akünger made an announcement in which he stated that the CHP was objecting to 60% of the ballot boxes. He indicated that there were doubts over two and a half million votes and the Supreme Election Council was accepting invalid votes as being valid. Aksünger, providing information about the evicting of witnesses of the Kurdish political movement, said that the Anadolu Agency’s data had been used as input by TV stations and this had been manipulated. He also stated that the ground had been laid for vote theft. With ‘Yes’ moving ahead at a time when TV stations were showing that nearly one hundred per cent of the vote had been counted and ‘No’ was in the lead in the three big provinces, there was displeasure at President Erdoğan and Prime-Minister Yıldırım announcing the times of their victory speeches.