Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş warned about the government’s plan to manipulate the election results in an article he wrote for Gazete Pencere on Monday.
According to Demirtaş, the government will activate its troll army on social media on the night of the election, and they will give vote rates before the polls open to establish the perception that ‘Erdoğan won’ in the first minutes.
Demirtaş also warned about various tricks at the ballot box, election boards, and the Supreme Electoral Council. He stated that “judges, police personnel, bought journalists, Anadolu Agency [the government-controlled public news agency in Turkey], and thousands of troll accounts are already prepared for all these schemes.” He urged social media users to volunteer in social media teams to frustrate social media manipulations.
Demirtaş stated that people’s power can be put into action by volunteers who protect ballot boxes everywhere. He also appealed to young people to prepare themselves as poll observers and not let anyone steal the election.
Demirtaş’s article criticised what he called “the government’s troll army and its commander, Fahrettin Altun,” the Presidential Communications Director, who he compared to Goebbels. He also warned that “the commander has missed one thing, which is the people’s power consisting of tens of millions of volunteers.”
In his article, Demirtaş made an appeal to Fahrettin Altun: “Don’t go so fast, Fahrettin. You’ll turn round and realise there’s no army behind you, they’ve all deserted. Everyone will escape, everyone will be saved, then everything will be on you.”
Meanwhile, Fahrettin Altun faced criticism for his response on Twitter to former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s warnings about the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in which he accused Demirtaş of making threats and declared that he was not afraid of him, instead of addressing the concerns raised by Demirtaş.
Demirtaş, who is currently in prison, has been subject to numerous legal proceedings by the Turkish government, many of which have been found to be in violation of his rights by the ECHR.
Furthermore, Altun’s assertion that he is not afraid of Demirtaş, who is imprisoned and therefore poses no physical threat, was seen as an absurd attempt to portray himself as a fearless government official. Critics have pointed out that Altun’s statement only serves to further undermine the already fragile state of democracy and human rights in Turkey.
The presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on 14 May, and Demirtaş’s warnings are in line with the concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.