Turkey will elect a new parliament and a new president in the 14 May elections that will shape the country’s future. After more than 20 years in power, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan finds himself neck and neck with the opposition’s joint candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in the recent polls.
Fifteen days before the historically significant elections, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s report on Turkey indicates an inadequacy for democratic elections; the Green Left Party kicks off its mobilised voters campaign while the country’s Supreme Election Board denies responsibility for transporting quake-affected voters.
Turkish legislation restricts fundamental rights necessary for democratic elections: report
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) election report on Turkey noted that legislation ‘continues to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms necessary for the conduct of democratic elections’.
The OSCE report, released on Friday, indicates that some political parties in Turkey’s Kurdish majority southeast faced physical and administrative obstacles to their campaigning activities, including reports of state authorities putting pressure on their supporters.
“Despite an earlier recommendation, defamation remains a criminal offence and is frequently used against journalists who voice their criticisms, often in connection with terrorism-related charges,” the report follows.
Green Left Party’s mobilised voters campaign
The Green Left Party, through which the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will run in the elections, has started working to mobilise at least 15,000 voters in Turkey’s northwestern Marmara region.
The party is identifying and registering mobile voters who currently live in Istanbul but have to go to their residential address to vote.
After the 10 May registration deadline, the party will transport voters to Kurdish provinces in eastern and southeastern Turkey with buses on 12 and 13 May. It will also cover the travel costs of voters whose residential addresses are in western provinces closer to Istanbul.
The Green Left Party is also working to transport earthquake-affected voters, who were forced to move to Istanbul after the February earthquakes that devastated 10 provinces, to the quake-hit cities where they will vote.
AKP official says transporting quake-victims to polls not government’s duty
More than 50,000 people lost their lives in the earthquakes and over two million people moved to other cities. According to a statement by Ahmet Yener, the head of the country’s Supreme Election Board (YSK), only 133,000 of the earthquake victims who left the disaster zone have registered their new addresses for the elections. The number of quake-affected voters who left the earthquake cities but did not register their addresses varies between one million and 1,600,000.
Recep Özel, the AKP’s representative on the YSK, told Deutsche Welle Turkish that earthquake victims should go to polls either by their own means or through political parties, adding that it is not the YSK’s duty to transport voters.
One-man regime falls apart, HDP’s Demirtaş says
For the first time, the opposition gained the upper hand and took the wind of change in the society behind its back, Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) jailed former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş told Yeni Yaşam Newspaper. “The one-man regime, which was called indestructible, is falling apart today and will lose big on 14 May,” Demirtaş said.
Demirtaş repeated that the Kurdish conflict should be solved in the parliament. “The first step could be the establishment of a commission in parliament. Everyone would submit all their suggestions, including ways and methods, to this commission, and progress would be made in line with the road map that will emerge from here,” Demirtaş suggested.
Ankara mayor supports pro-Kurdish HDP’s statements
Mansur Yavaş, vice-presidential candidate and Ankara mayor of the Nation Alliance, an electoral bloc of six opposition parties against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that “it is legitimate for the HDP to want to voice its position in the parliament.”
Yavaş, known as a former nationalist, said, “I read the HDP’s statement, they say very clearly, ‘We don’t want a one-man system, let’s return to the parliamentary system.’ This is right … In the current presidential system, the parliament has completely disappeared,” Yavaş told TV100.
The Labour and Freedom Alliance, which includes Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition HDP, announced on Friday that it would support Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential election.
Erdoğan to attend rally after illness
President Erdoğan, who fell ill during a live broadcast on Tuesday and cancelled all his public appearances since then, will attend a rally in Turkey’s western province of Izmir today. Erdoğan is also expected to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.