The oddness of the early concession
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.
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
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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