MHP’s 11.1 percent election support stuns observers
As Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Public Alliance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) increased their support in Sunday’s elections over that in a referendum held last year, the MHP’s 11.1 percent share of the vote has stunned observers.
After the İYİ (Good) Party’s Meral Akşener and some of her allies left the MHP, many expected the MHP to garner around 5 percent of the vote; however, the Turkish nationalists’ front unexpectedly increased its support in predominantly Kurdish areas in southeastern Turkey.
“So for the real surprise in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). At 11% it has performed much better than expected. It will have a formidable bargaining power in the coalition with AKP,” Henri Barkey, a senior fellow for the Middle East at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted.
The MHP had 16.3 percent support in the June 7, 2015 elections and 11.9 percent in Nov. 1, 2015 snap elections.
“Even though a drift occurred from the MHP’s grass roots to the İYİ Party, the former seems to cover that from the votes coming from [Justice and Development Party],” an analysis on BBC Turkish service said. Read the full article
Newly elected HDP MP to apply for prison release
Leyla Güven, a Kurdish activist and politician detained in Turkey since January, will make a formal application to be released from detention after winning a seat in parliament in the Jun. 24 elections. Güven, the co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress, an NGO promoting Kurdish self-governance, was among dozens detained in January shortly after Turkey launched Olive Branch, a military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces in northwest Syria.
Güven was charged with “establishing and administering an (illegal) organisation” in late January, and like many with links to the Kurdish political movement has been held in pre-trial detention since then.
The politician ran in the June elections for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), winning a seat in Hakkari, a predominantly Kurdish province in Turkey’s southeast.
Among other ranking members of the party, the HDP's former co-chair and presidential candidate on Jun. 24 Selahattin Demirtaş is currently held in detention pending trial in a prison in the northwest province of Edirne, from which he carried out his electoral campaign.
The newly elected deputy will apply to be released once she has received her certificate of election, secularist news site Diken reported on Monday. Source
Pro-Kurdish pres. candidate applying to ECHR over violation of right to free elections
Jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş is applying the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the violation of his right to free election in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, independent news site Diken reported.
Demirtaş, who has been jailed since Nov. 2016 on a string of terrorism-related charges, conducted his presidential campaign from behind bars. Demirtaş’s request for release for release to campaign for the Jun. 24 elections has been rejected by both local and the Constitutional courts. The 44-year-old candidate’s lawer, Mahsuni Karaman announced that Demirtaş will be taking the matter to the ECHR.
Demirtaş’s HDP overcame the 10 percent threshold to make it into parliament while the former HDP co-chair came in third place in the presidential race with 8.4 percent of the votes, according to state-run Anadolu News Agency. Source
OSCE criticises conduct of Turkey elections
The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, saying the ongoing state of emergency limited freedom of expression and government control of the media meant parties did not compete on an equal footing.
The preliminary report also noted positive aspects of the elections, held on Sunday, including the high turnout, it said voters had genuine choices in the election, that most contestants were able to convey their messages and that, by and large, appropriate election-day procedures were followed.
Among many shortcomings, however, it said:
The election took place under Turkey’s continuing state of emergency, which limited freedoms of assembly and expression.
Changes to electoral legislation made prior to the poll both undermined important election safeguards and were made without appropriate consultation of stakeholders. They also reduced the transparency, integrity and accountability of political finances and were perceived as favouring the ruling party.
- Candidates were not able to compete on an equal footing, evidenced by the excessive coverage President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received in the mainstream media.
- The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate in the presidential election, Selahattin Demirtaş, could not campaign freely because he was held in pre-trial detention.
Women were underrepresented in political life
The 10 percent threshold which a party must exceed to take up seats in parliament limits political pluralism
International election observers faced some restrictions during observation of the elections.
Ballot box committees did not always adhere to the legally prescribed steps during counting and tabulation of the votes cast. Source
Click for link to the OSCE preliminary report
OSCE monitors: Turkey election was ‘lively’ but ‘lacked equal conditions’
International observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, (OSCE) said voters in Turkey enjoyed a genuine choice in the country’s twin presidential and parliamentary elections, but criticized the “lack of equal conditions” during campaigning.
“Voters had a genuine choice in the June 24 early presidential and parliamentary elections but the conditions for campaigning were not equal. The incumbent president and ruling party enjoyed an undue advantage, including in excessive coverage by government-affiliated public and private media outlets,” the joint mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said at a press conference on June 25.
Turnout in the election was around 87 percent.
The restrictive legal framework and powers granted under the ongoing state of emergency restricted the freedoms of assembly and expression, including in the media, said the observers. Nonetheless, citizens demonstrated their commitment to democracy by participating in large numbers in campaign rallies and on election day, the observers said.
“The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections. I hope that Turkey lifts these restrictions as soon as possible,” said Ignacio Sanchez Amor, special coordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission. Read the full article
CHP’s presidential candidate İnce accepts defeat, vows to keep fighting
Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), conceded defeat in what he called “unjust” presidential elections on June 25 but vowed to continue his political fight.
“There is no significant difference between the official ballot reports that our officials have shown us and the numbers announced by the Supreme Board of Elections [YSK]. The differences do not have the power to change the results. So, I concede the results of the elections,” İnce said at a press conference at the CHP headquarters in Ankara on June 25.
His comments came hours after unofficial election results showed İnce garnered 30.6 percent of the votes, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won by 52.6 percent of the votes.
When asked why he waited hours to speak publicly, he said he was waiting for the final results as it was still possible that Erdoğan’s support could go below 50 percent while votes were still being counted.
“Did they steal votes? Yes, they did. But did they steal 10 million votes? No,” İnce added, stating that Erdoğan’s victory margin was so wide that it “cannot be explained merely by election irregularities.” Read the full article
Turkish PM slams foreign election observers
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on June 23 that some foreign election observers "behave like spokespeople of radical political structures."
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency in western province of İzmir, Binali Yıldırım slammed main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for bringing election security to the agenda before the June 24 polls. "Our government has been taking necessary measures for the last several months in order to ensure a safe and peaceful election," Yıldırım said.
Responding to a question regarding foreign election observers, Yıldırım said some of them "behave like spokespeople of radical political structures. We believe that this is not correct. We think that it means an intervention in the elections in one way or another," Yıldırım said.
He said no one has the right to cast shadow on these elections in Turkey and it would be a great unfairness to Turkish people. Yıldırım said the election observers should come and observe the elections "properly and they should not intervene in politics."
Turkey will go to polls on June 24 for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Nearly 400 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers have reportedly arrived in Turkey to monitor presidential and parliamentary elections. Two lawmakers from Germany and Sweden were denied entry to Turkey on June 22 for the OSCE observatory mission.
Officials in Turkey had accused Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party lawmaker Andrej Hunko, in his Council of Europe observatory mission for the April 2017 constitutional amendment referendum, of having a biased position in favor of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu posted Hunko’s photograph with PKK flags on his official Twitter account. Source
Turkey rejects Western diplomats as electoral observers
24 diplomats from 11 Western countries have been denied permission to observe the Turkish electoral process for Sunday’s parliamentary and presidential elections as part of an OSCE observation mission, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said . Two others on the mission were prevented from even entering the country on the basis that they were terrorist sympathisers and anti-Turkish, the newspaper said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry had decided not to allow any foreign representatives to observe the electoral process, it added. An election observer, speaking to the newspaper anonymously, told Cumhuriyet that it was normal for diplomats to be able to watch elections.
“When even Russia allows hundreds of diplomats to observe its elections, this being denied in Turkey is very disappointing,” the observer said. “There will certainly be a response to this and Turkish diplomats will face similar sanctions.”23 Source
Opposition candidate vows to back entrepreneurs
The presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition party vowed to support entrepreneurs if elected.
Addressing his Republican People’s Party (CHP) campaign rally at Anadolu Square in capital Ankara, Muharrem Ince said: “I will establish the Ministry of Industry and Entrepreneurship.”
Ince also said children will receive good education, foreign language education, and will be sent to foreign countries to gain experience. “Our schools will not be divided into qualified and unqualified. We will decrease unemployment rate to under 5 percent,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ince promised to send "4 million Syrians back to their homes" by implementing a peace policy in the region in his first 100 days. Ince and newly-found Good (IYI) Party candidate Meral Aksener have promised to send Syrian refugees back to their countries if they win the elections. 23 Source
Erdoğan's position far from unassailable - analyst
A widely held belief when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Jun. 24 snap elections was that he did so from a position of supreme political power; the time since has shown the president to be weaker than assumed.
Bipartisan Police Center analyst Alan Makovsky has tackled this and other widespread assumptions in an article published on Friday, two days before votes are cast.
The energetic and united opposition’s performance has played a significant role in debunking the myth that Erdoğan is unassailable, with the secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate inching up to polls as he brings out enthusiastic crowds across the country.
Equally important in demonstrating the president’s weakness has been what Makovsky calls “Erdoğan fatigue,” a natural dwindling of support for the president after 15 years ruling the country.
This is matched by dissatisfaction with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s recent lackrustre performance guiding the economy, the nation’s primary concern going into the election.
Although Erdoğan enjoys “every advantage” in this election, with complete control of the country’s Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) and media, polls indicate that his support will only grant him victory by the slimmest of margins if at all, said Makovsky.
The second assumption the analyst challenges is that, if Erdoğan wins the presidential election but the AKP is defeated in the parliamentary election, he can simply call for snap elections “without any serious consequences to his presidency.”
This could significantly harm Erdoğan’s power due to a new law passed in the reforms that enshrined Erdoğan’s new executive presidential system, which requires presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously.
Calling a snap election would thus require the president to put his own position up for another vote, and would also mark the end of his first of two five-year presidential terms allowed by the new rules.
“(I)t defies credulity that he would cut short his term of office after a few weeks or months and subject himself to another presidential election just for the risk of recapturing a Parliament that, while still wielding meaningful powers, will be substantially weaker than it was prior to last year’s referendum,” Makovsky said.
While the new system certainly weakens parliament, Makovsky argues against a third assumption that claims it will be completely powerless against the president.
It is true that under the new constitutional rules the president has wide-ranging power to issue decrees on social, political, and economic matters, but Parliament can overrule those decrees. Parliament’s laws are final; according to the new amendments, the president cannot issue decrees that contradict laws passed by Parliament. In addition, Parliament is constitutionally required to decide issues of war, sending Turkish troops beyond the border, allowing foreign troops to use Turkish territory, and the imposition (or extension) of emergency rule, as well as many other matters.
Although the new parliament’s powers would be substantially weaker than those of the president, a majority of anti-Erdoğan parties could “make (his) life miserable,” Makovsky said. Source
Alliance may collapse, if AKP repeats mistakes: MHP leader
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli has warned its ally, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), two days before elections, saying that “everything would be over” with the People’s Alliance if the government repeats its past mistakes.
“We already told that we would support Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential elections. As a result, he would be the head of the executive branch. [But] we want a strong MHP in the parliament. Erdoğan can form the government as he wants, this is his business. If they repeat the mistake done by Ahmet Davutoğlu, everything would be over,” Bahçeli told during a live interview on private broadcasters Habertürk and Show TV late June 22.
The AKP had lost its parliamentary majority in the June 2015 elections. Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was the prime minister at the time, proposed a coalition after the elections, but Bahçeli refused the offer, paving way for the “repeat elections” that the AKP won back parliamentary majority five months later. Read the full article
Re-election of Erdoğan is a scary prospect for international community - columnist
The prospect of a triumphantly re-elected Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 24 is alarming not only for Turks, but also for the international community, columnist Simon Tisdall said in the Guardian on Friday.
According to Tisdall, over his 16-year rule, Erdoğan has turned from neighbourhood bully-boy into geostrategic threat. “Under his choleric, resentful tutelage, Turkey has ceased to be a reliable friend of Europe and the U.S. If he gets his way in Sunday’s polls, Erdoğan, a dictator in all but name, is likely to foment further instability in Syria and throughout the Middle East region,” Tisdall said.
Tisdall said that president Erdoğan’s deliberately divisive, populist policies represented a big challenge for foreign partners. Since the influence of former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his “zero problems with neighbours” policy faded and Erdoğan has started to seek to be the leader of the entire Muslim world, his foreign policy has thrived on problems with neighbours, according to Tisdall.
Erdoğan’s rift with Egypt, his support to Muslim Brotherhood, his de facto alliances with Iran and Qatar, his approach to Kurdish problem and Turkey’s military operation in northern Iraq against Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) basis, as well as Turkey’s military offences in northern Syria are examples Tisdall gave to explain Erdoğan’s pattern in foreign policy. He also added that Erdoğan had recently picked up a fight with Turkey’s old enemy Greece and had abandoned past attempts to improve relations with Israel.
Tisdall reminded that the U.S. Senate tried to block the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey this week, accusing Erdoğan of “actively operating to undermine US interests around the world”. Moreover, Tisdall foresees that Erdoğan’s rows with European countries, his defiance of human rights norms and shared democratic standards, and his growing military collaboration with Vladimir Putin will get worse, if he is re-elected.
“Turkey’s voters have a duty to the world, not just to themselves. Kick him out,” Tisdall said. Source
Lights go out for Erdoğan challenger in Istanbul
Turks attending a rally for Meral Akşener, who is seeking to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in elections on Sunday, had to listen to her in darkness after a local municipality turned out the lights.
The lights in the square in Istanbul’s Uskudar district, controlled by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), were blacked out on Thursday evening shortly after Akşener, who is the leader of the rival Good Party (IP), began to speak, local media including Yenicag newspaper reported. The nighbourhood surrounding the square continued to be illuminated, it said.
The incident is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to stifle political campaigns against Erdoğan, who is seeking to introduce one-man rule and abolish Turkey’s parliamentary system of government at the presidential and parliamentary elections. Akşener, like Erdoğan a right-wing politician, has received scant coverage from a media now overwhelmingly controlled by business allies close to the president. Even the taxpayer-funded Anadolu agency, the main news agency in Turkey, has hardly given her a mention.
In her speech in Uskudar, Akşener said the blackout was just the latest attempt by Erdoğan’s party to silence her campaign as she toured the country. Campaign stalls had been attacked and local officials had refused access to meeting halls and carparks, she told the crowd, who had switched on their mobile phone displays to help light up the area.
On Thursday, opposition politicians and activists accused the government of trying to fix the election after data and graphics produced by Anadolu and aired accidentally on a pro-government television channel showed Erdoğan winning 52 percent of the vote. Anadolu later said the broadcast was a test.
In a statement on Twitter, Akşener then called on Erdoğan to confirm or deny whether his son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak had given an order to Anadolu to announce a win for Erdoğan at 21:30 on Sunday, when a ban on publishing the results of the vote is lifted.
A campaign speech by another opposition candidate – Muharrem Ince – at a rally in the western city of Izmir on Thursday, was also given scant coverage by most Turkish media, which quickly switched to footage of Erdoğan landing at a new mega-airport in Istanbul in his presidential jet. Ince's rally was attended by more than two million people, according to some estimates.
Erdoğan is leading in most opinion polls ahead of the vote, but could be forced into a second round against Ince. 22 Source
HDP rally attracts impressive crowd
A Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır on Wednesday attracted a large audience despite the party’s presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş being in prison.
Attendees turned on the torch functions on their mobile phones at one point in order to show how many of them there were in advance of Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Among the speakers at the rally was investigative journalist Ahmet Şık, who is standing as a parliamentary candidate for the party in Istanbul.
“We will again foil this war plot that was set up 3 years ago,” he said, in reference to a renewal of conflict in Turkey’s southeast after the majority-Kurdish HDP successfully entered parliament.
“We will come out of this tunnel of lies. We will not only win the election, we will win the truth. On June 24 when we have all together foiled this trick of polarisation, our songs of peace which spread from Gezi Park will ring out even stronger all over Turkey,” Şık added, in reference to the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013. 22 Source