Pre-election tensions in Turkey escalated on Sunday when the main opposition bloc’s vice presidential candidate and Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and his supporters were physically attacked by supporters of the ruling bloc in the Turkish city of Erzurum.
With just six days to go to the polls, voters are on edge and hoping for no major upheavals on the run-up to 14 May.
*Updated at 5:08 pm (CET)
European Greens declare support for opposition in Turkey
The European Greens condemned an attack on Turkey’s Green Left Party in the southern province of Mersin on Sunday, and issued a message of solidarity on Twitter.
Noting that the pressure and attacks against the opposition in Turkey have become “intense and systematic”, the European Greens concluded: “Go vote! Let’s end this election in the first round!”
The solidarity message came after a group of ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members attacked the Green Left Party’s campaign vehicle with knives and sticks in Mersin, injuring five party workers and damaging the vehicle.
The incident was part of a disturbing trend of violence and intimidation against opposition parties and their supporters ahead of the coming presidential elections in Turkey.
Bullet fired into opposition party office
Tensions are rising ahead of the elections in Turkey. Mahmut Tanal, a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate for parliament in Şanlıurfa (Riha), has announced that a bullet was fired at the party’s campaign office in what he says was an attempt to intimidate and threaten them.
Tanal shared footage of the incident on his social media accounts. In his message, Tanal said:
“The provocateurs, directed by incompetent cowards who cannot deal with us in the election field and who cannot go out among the people, have fired a bullet at our Şanlıurfa campaign office to threaten and intimidate us!”
*Updated at 4:38 pm (CET)
Turkish president accuses opposition of orchestrating attack on themselves
Talking about the recent attack on Ekrem Imamoğlu in Erzurum, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the opposition of orchestrating the attack “to find an excuse for their inevitable defeat”.
Speaking at a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne, Erdoğan said: “They are trying to defame our cities by creating incidents with their own provocations.”
Turkish Red Crescent executives fired for calling for attack on Turkish politician’s rally
Two executives of the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) have been dismissed from their positions after calling for an attack on Istanbul Mayor and vice presidential candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu’s Monday rally in Konya. Prior to the rally, Ahmet Dağlı, a board member of the Turkish Red Crescent, had urged people to go to the rally and “stone the devil” in a social media post.
Following Dağlı’s comments, Dağlı and another executive were dismissed from their positions.
Criminal investigation on stone-throwing attack initiated
Police have launched an investigation into Sunday’s incident of stones being thrown at Istanbul Mayor and vice presidential candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu during an election rally in the northeastern province of Erzurum, announced the Turkish justice minister.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ condemned the incident and confirmed that there had already been arrests in connection with the attack and that the legal process was ongoing. He added that those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.
Several people were injured in the incident, though İmamoğlu himself was unharmed. The attack has caused an outcry in the country, with many calling for an end to the provocative language that incites violence during the election season. The incident also raises concerns about the safety and security of candidates campaigning in the run-up to the election.
*Updated at 12:50 pm (CET)
Energy Minister assures safe electricity supply amid security concerns
With six days to go until the elections, one of the most pressing concerns among voters is the security of the elections. Citizens of Turkey are worried that power cuts that occurred and became a topic of discussion during previous elections may recur.
In response, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez stated that maintenance work has been carried out on critical infrastructure such as polling stations, election boards, courthouses and airports that will be used during the elections, as well as party buildings and the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK). He added that all generators had been checked, and repairs had been completed where necessary, with a mobile radio system and satellite phone alternatives prepared in case of any communication system failures.
Dönmez also noted that contingency plans had been developed for all possible weather risks, and that the necessary measures had been taken against cyber-attacks.
Turkey also tasked over 600,000 members of the security forces to securing the ballot boxes on 14 May.
The security forces will be deployed in 81 cities to pre-empt any problems during the elections, according to Turkey’s interior ministry. The personnel will be supported by 71 helicopters, eight aeroplanes and military and police vehicles and drones.
Turkey’s elections in world press
Turkey’s general elections continue to receive wide coverage in the world press. The British news agency Reuters, reporting from Istanbul, wrote that the elections will be marked by the economic crisis and the cost of living. The French news agency AFP, reporting from the earthquake zone, emphasised that earthquake survivors are focused on survival, not elections, and said that quake survivors were “afraid of raising their voices and being arrested”.
“Suffocating under tyranny of same government”
A strong Green Left in the parliament would be a key to open the door to equality, freedom, democracy and humane life and to close the doors of evil, said Çiğdem Kılıçgün Uçar, co-spokesperson of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party in Turkey in a campaign speech on the state-run TRT on Sunday.
“We are all suffocating under the oppression and tyranny of the same government,” Uçar said, referring to the challenges that citizens are facing, such as inflation, concern for the future, lack of democracy, favouritism, elected mayors being deposed and replaced with government appointees, and thousands of people thrown into prison.
She said that Turkey is heading for the most important election of its recent history, and, emphasising the need for more women’s rights, that the Green Left would provide social security and retirement rights for women suffering from the exploitation of domestic labour, and establish a women’s ministry where women themselves could develop solutions to all problems related to women.
Kurdish electoral propaganda on state-run TV
Arif Sevinç, Deputy Chairman of the Right and Freedom Party (Hak-Par) spoke entirely in Kurdish during his campaign speech on national television (TRT), advocating for the recognition of the fundamental rights of the Kurdish people. He said that his party is the only one of the 24 parties participating in the 14 May elections to support the recognition of Kurdish rights and to call for federation of the country.
Sevinç also addressed the country’s economic woes, attributing them to the Kurdish issue, and emphasising the importance of resolving it. “Hak-Par,” he said, “advocates for freedom of belief and thought, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their religious or sectarian beliefs, can practice them freely without discrimination or injustice.”
AKP ally promises to shut down LGBTQI+ assaciations
The election promise of the New Welfare Party (YRP), one of the allies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is to completely close all LGBTQI+ associations and prevent them from campaigning, the party’s chairman Fatih Erbakan announced in his TRT speech yesterday.
“We will protect our young people from disasters such as deism, atheism and homosexuality and provide them with the spiritual and psychological support they need,” Erbakan said, promising to create permanent positions for Qur’an teachers.
Assault on opposition party members in Trabzon
A group of AKP supporters attacked members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the opposition bloc National Alliance in the centre of the northern city of Trabzon on Sunday.
The AKP supporters approached a CHP election campaign stand, repeatedly chanting the name of the president, “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan”. Later in the evening, when the CHP members had finished for the day and started to walk home, a group marched up to them and physically assaulted several CHP members.
Relative of pro-Kurdish HDP district co-chair killed
A man was shot and killed in a village, located in the Beytüşşebap (Elkê) district of the Kurdish-majority Şırnak (Şırnex) province in southeastern Turkey. Temer Temel, aged 48, was returning home when an unidentified person opened fire on him in the evening hours. Law enforcement teams have launched an investigation.
Journalist Cihan Ölmez shared on social media that the victim was the brother of former Beytüşşebap mayor of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Yusuf Temel, and the uncle of HDP district co-chair Ferhat Temel.
Brawl at Turkish election polling station in Netherlands
A brawl broke out in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, shortly before the end of the external voting process for the presidential and parliamentary general elections on Sunday, which led to Amsterdam police declaring a state of emergency.
A police helicopter and many ambulances were dispatched to the RAI Fair and Congress Centre where voting had been taking place, according to BBC Turkish.