The oddness of the early concession

Çiğdem Toker

27 Haziran 2018 Çarşamba, 14:27
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The Republican People’s Party (CHP) numbers among the country’s most venerable and important organisations with its principles, values, mission and millions of citizens sensing attachment to it.

There could be no more justified and normal situation than for millions of citizens to hold high expectations of a party of this magnitude in the historic 24 June elections in which the system of governance would change – in terms of written law, too - and presidential candidates were competing.

Heading the list of these expectations was a well-designed, tested, trust-inspiring and soundly functioning election monitoring system. In an environment in which the regime has become authoritarian and broadcasting of the whole country’s election data has been placed at the mercy of a news agency that has intentionally been brought into a monopoly position, the expectation of an alternative system had – especially following the 16 April 2017 referendum – grown exponentially.

As opposed to experiences in various previous elections, there was great hope that a similar error would not be repeated in basic areas that have a truly decisive role on the course of the election and its results such as communications and coordination breakdowns. For, this hope had been proclaimed to society by party officials themselves.

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 However, on the night of 24 June, we were greeted by a familiar spectacle with this new system proving impossible to set up, the ruling-party-guided AA splattering its manipulative graphs on all the screens and the Fair Election Platform, set up as an alternative, falling short of expectations.

The difference in the assertiveness and tone of the announcements coming two hours apart by CHP Spokesperson Bülent Tezcan demoralised people in the dark of the night who had indeed gone hungry, thirsty and sleepless so that the election would take place fairly and honestly; it even made them weep.

 Seriousness not attached

At the time Tezcan was making that announcement, the difference between the votes entered in the Supreme Election Council’s system and the votes that AA was splattering across the screens, the continuation until the first light of morning of the counting of the votes at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce centre where the votes coming from abroad were processed and the posting by the CHP of photographs on social media of the countless sacks of votes being transported from one place to another at the very minutes when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was acknowledging victory show that adequate seriousness was not attached to this matter of vital importance, regardless of how much good intention was involved.

It is indeed curious that not a single institutional objection was forthcoming over Supreme Election Council Chair Sadi Güven appearing before the cameras close to morning and saying that the votes not yet entered into the system would not affect the result.

At yesterday’s assessment meeting, CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu noted that the ballot boxes had been safeguarded and thanked all the young people who had expended effort to this end.

However, the 24 June elections did not transpire normally to an extent that invites such ready concession. This easy and relaxed concession is thus not at all normal.

Yes, it is a fact that the main opposition party’s efforts to safeguard the ballot boxes was well intentioned and wide ranging. We also witnessed this in many places. However, “safeguarding” does not end with staying next to the ballot boxes, monitoring vote counting, getting the wet-signed tallies and forwarding them to the election boards.

 A report is needed

“Safeguarding” the vote must also comprise the taking of a cool-headed, overhead, analytical photograph of the election. What the people of this country who believe in democratic values deserve is for a rigorous report to be compiled listing the reasons if it was not possible to attend at all polling stations and all situations identified that “fly in the face of reason” which prevented the election from taking place honestly and fairly, along with the inclusion of self-criticism if this is warranted.

That report must set out the extent of the existing capacity, where there were shortfalls, where there were mistakes and where there were “grey areas” so that the same mistakes are not repeated and people do not experience disappointment here ever after.

For instance, just now millions of people wish to learn what happened to the Fair Election Platform set up as an alternative to AA and given assertive promotion and why it did not work as had been claimed.

With the prospect of a more joyous and trouble-free evening beckoning, the youngster who had opted to do battle beside the ballot box over whether a single vote had been read correctly, with the prospect of a decent meal at home beckoning, the young woman who followed İnce’s advice and slept in hunger next to the ballot box and the young lawyers waiting in mounting sorrow with their robes that they had made ready at the Ankara Bar Association training centre want to know why the election results were conceded to so early and easily that night.

If the effort is made to recall the lofty speeches, tender solicitations, strenuous coaxing and undertakings made just three days earlier, it will be better realised that this easy concession was unconvincing and appeared odd.

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