The results of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 May are still uncertain and suspicions of electoral fraud are growing.
Irregularities have been found in the official counts of 2,269 ballot boxes in the presidential election and 4,825 ballot boxes in the parliamentary election, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced on Wednesday.
The statement came after numerous irregularities were revealed on Tuesday when the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party discovered that in many ballot boxes, votes for the party had been officially recorded by the country’s Supreme Electoral Council as having been cast for other parties, in particular the ruling party’s far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Countless ballot boxes from all over Turkey have been misrepresented in the official records
After the electoral council made election records available to political parties on Tuesday, the Green Left Party appealed the results of more than 1,000 ballot boxes on the grounds that they were incorrectly recorded, Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki, the party’s representative on the electoral council, announced in a press release yesterday. Tiryaki also said they would examine all the official data from 193,000 ballot boxes and appeal the results of every ballot box where they found discrepancies.
Following the Green Left Party’s announcement that its votes had been recorded for the ruling party or its allies, voters took to social media throughout the day to share the irregularities they found by comparing and checking original polling station reports collected by an independent elections observation group on its website with the data of the Supreme Electoral Council, published on the CHP’s website.
According to the posts, countless ballot boxes from all over Turkey have been misrepresented in the official records, invariably resulting in the transfer of opposition parties’ votes to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies.
These developments have triggered fury among opposition voters, who were already disappointed with the election results, and there have been calls on social media for a repeat of the elections or a recount.
The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), a member of the Labour and Freedom Alliance led by the Green Left Party, announced that votes for them had also not been recorded in a number of ballot boxes, and that they too were checking ballot boxes and submitting appeals.
“We will continue to check every single vote,” CHP officials said, adding that all ballot boxes have been checked, that appeals have been made against records that do not match and that they would publish the results of the appeals.
Presidential communications office: “a manipulation aimed at provoking public opinion”
But the ambiguity on the issue is not limited to this. When the official Supreme Electoral Council results posted on the CHP’s website were compared with the original polling station reports, discrepancies were found that could have changed the results of the elections in favour of the opposition, and hundreds of thousands of posts showing documentation of inconsistencies were shared on social media.
But late on Tuesday afternoon, the Centre for Combating Disinformation attached to the Presidential Communications Directorate announced that the data on the CHP’s website was not the data of the country’s official electoral authority, that it was incorrect data that the CHP itself had entered into the system, and that it did not reflect the official results. According to the presidency, hundreds of thousands of irregularities shared on social media were actually not in the official data and there was no discrepancy between the original polling station reports and the records of the Supreme Electoral Council.
The presidential communications office also dismissed rumours circulating on social media during the day that the Green Left Party had gained parliamentary seats as an outcome of the appeals, saying that these claims were “a manipulation aimed at provoking public opinion.”
However, since the Supreme Electoral Council’s official data is not open to the public, voters who suspect massive electoral fraud have no way of confirming it. There have been numerous calls on social media for the Supreme Electoral Council to make the official data public, but the organisation has yet to respond.
Discrepancies and suspicions
Adding to the chaos, the CHP’s information and communication technologies officer was dismissed by its leader presidential challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday, reported journalist İsmail Saymaz. The failure of the CHP to publish the election results as they came out on the evening of the elections had caused a backlash from opposition voters who did not trust the state-run Anadolu Agency. The subsequent discrepancies, the dismissal and the announcement by the presidency’s disinformation office raised suspicions that the CHP’s election results tracking system was not working properly and that many of the irregularities detected by the public were in fact due to the CHP’s system.
CHP officials did not comment on these suspicions, but reiterated that they have lodged appeals with the Supreme Election Board regarding irregularities they detected in thousands of ballot boxes and that they will publish the results of the appeals.
The Green Left Party and the TİP have also been continuing to investigate by comparing original polling station reports with electoral council official records, and loging the relevant appeals.
Officials of the Green Left Party announced that although the appeals are ongoing, so far they have not reached a point that would affect the election results, confirming that rumours of the party gaining more seats as a result of the appeals were untrue.