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Why Everyone Thinks That Elections in Turkey Might Be Rigged? #TurkishElections2018

Why Everyone Thinks That Elections in Turkey Might Be Rigged? <a class="hashtagger" href="https://sigmaturkey.com/tag/turkishelections2018/">#TurkishElections2018</a>

A few days ago we were discussing the shortcomings of the upcoming elections with a friend at the Parliament.

He told me about a recent conversation he had with a politician friend of his, who had served as a deputy at the time of the Democrat Party of Menderes in the 1950s. This old democratic party member refers to the recent amendments made by the ruling AKP in the Election Law as a carbon copy of the provisions passed at the time by the former Democrat Party (DP). He says he is ashamed now to confesses that in the 1957 elections that the DP won, they had passed a provision in the Election Law that allowed for the ruling party bureaucrats to chair the Ballot Box committees and that thanks to another provision that allowed for unstamped ballots to be cast, they had prepared two ballot boxes for every polling station; the first one to contain the real votes cast and the second one pre-filled with votes for the ruling party prepared prior to the elections (as the Ballot Box committee was no longer obligated to confirm through its own stamp that the votes were cast in its presence). At the end of the counting at the polling station, the chair had helped the real ballot box to be replaced by the replica either at the site or in the designated car on the way from the polling station to the city counting center.  The result of that shameless vote fraud, lead to a stolen DP victory in the elections.

I have observed from my own readings that AKP has followed in the footsteps of the DP in many respects, foremost of all is the polarization of the society and calling half of it “un-national”, “foreign”, “terrorist supporters” etc.  just like the DP forming the “nationalist front” at the time when they also failed to rule the country to the satisfaction of all the citizens  and attempted to change the system through rigged elections with that of an authoritarian one. I don’t need to go into details, however all the tactical tricks from declaring snap elections to gimmicks to prevent IYI Party from entering elections points to a despondent ruling party that would not stop resorting to any cheat if winning the elections is in jeopardy just like in 1957.  So is the fact that we are going to have the elections under the Emergency rule. Some people may say that this is how dirty politics play out everywhere in the world. Nevertheless the importance of the ramifications of this election in Turkey is far more important than any other in the past. If the political observers are right, then any president or ruling party would fight to the end if they know that the opposition is prepared to make them pay in court for all their past wrongdoings. One can see that the AKP leader and the party are indeed to fight to the end.

Only a few days ago it was confirmed that the Head of the Chief of General Staff was sent to Abdullah Gül together with the spokesperson of the Presidency İbrahim Kalın to convince him not to run as a candidate for opposition as he was expected to attract considerable number of votes from the disgruntled AKP voters. And this visit seems to have worked. If correct it shows the pitiful state of election politics in Turkey.

On the opposition front,  the Republican Party (CHP) as well as IYI Party  seem to trust their own ability to correct any mischievous act(s) the ruling party may resort to in order to make sure that the voting results in AKP’s favor no matter what. The opposition should be careful. To rig the elections there are too many instruments that the ruling party may apply. To avoid the rigging there is too much to watch over. I don’t think it is easy to cope with them all. A computer- geek- friend of mine told me how easy it would be to change a program to pick the people to be awarded in any kind of a lottery if just left to the computer.  So calculating the aggregate of the votes cast at so many districts may give way to a few tricks resulting in manipulating who wins!  Therefore the opposition parties should include in their strategies the possibility of massive vote cheating and consequently they should get prepared how to respond when this eventuality occurs. This may even point to the necessity of the repeat of a clean election in another two months!

It is very important this time that Turkey’s friends abroad should wait to congratulate the winner until the word comes out of the OSCE observer missions that the result is legitimate.

We understand that for our Allies it is important to have a working relationship with whoever comes to power in Turkey for economic reasons as well as, for example, implementing a coordinated policy in Syria. However it is equally important to know that it should be a working relationship with the legitimate winner not a government that imposes itself on the country via election fraud. It should be known that Turkey belongs to the Turkish people including the opposition not to AKP alone.

We all know that the leader of the AKP would never instruct his party members or bureaucrats to level the playing field so as to give an equal opportunity and time to the opposition to reach out to the people through the media or stop jailing people for having spoken their minds freely! It would therefore be wise for the opposition, which complained about the referendum results of April 16, 2017 not to fall into a similar trap this time in June. The AKP should be made to understand that there are consequences to mischievous behavior. It should be made to understand this time that it may face a boycott of the Parliament should the will of the people is not properly reflected in the outcome of elections and that the international community  will not go silent to acts against the will of the people if such a crime is committed.

We should not let any party to steal our votes!

About The Author

Murat Ozcelik

Ambassador Özçelik served as a member of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over 30 years till his retirement from the Foreign Service in 2013. During this time he held various positions, including Turkish Embassy in Riyadh, Turkey’s Permanent Representation to the then-European Economic Community in Brussels, Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. and Turkish Consulate General in Shanghai. He was appointed Assistant Special Representative to Iraq in December 2006; served as Turkey’s Special Envoy to Iraq between 2007 and 2009; and Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq between 2009 and 2011. In September 2014, Ambassador Özçelik was appointed the Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (“CHP”), the main opposition party in Turkey. Between November 2014 and November 2015, Ambassador Özçelik served as the Vice Chairman of Foreign Relations for CHP. Ambassador Özçelik also served as a Member of Parliament in 2015. Ambassador Özçelik graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the Middle East Technical University in 1976 and also attended a post graduate program on European Union integration at the Free University of Amsterdam in 1988. He is married with two children.

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