Turkey: Opposition Questions Fairness of Sunday's Polls

    Turkey: Opposition Questions Fairness of Sunday's Polls
    Last updated May 18, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]


    • On Wednesday, Turkey's main opposition party said it had filed complaints over suspected irregularities over thousands of ballots in Sunday's elections, in which Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan performed better than expected.[1]
    • Muharrem Erkek, deputy chair of the Republican People's Party (CHP), said the CHP had formally raised objections to over 2,269 ballot boxes for the presidential election while conceding it would not change the overall results.[2]
    • In addition, Erkek claimed votes for Kılıçdaroğlu were incorrectly allocated to Muharrem İnce, who pulled out of the presidential race three days before the vote and were eventually allegedly handed to Erdoğan.[3]
    • While Erdoğan's People's Alliance won a strong parliamentary majority, he received 49.5% of the vote in the presidential election — falling short of the 50% threshold needed to win outright — compared to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's 44.9%.[4]
    • The May 28 runoff will now determine whether Erdoğan [who has governed Turkey as either prime minister or president since 2003] will become the president for the third time or if the country will take a different course as promised by the Nation Alliance' candidate Kılıçdaroğlu.[5]
    • Turkey's election takes place as the country grapples with soaring inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, and the aftermath of devastating earthquakes.[6]


    Narrative A

    The opposition camp is timidly crying rigged election to try and appease their voters, which have been deceived by unsupported claims that Kılıçdaroğlu — who lost 11 elections in the past — would outright win the presidential race against Erdoğan, as well as to avoid criticism for its foiled unethical campaign. After Erdoğan dominated the first round, it would not be surprising if his votes reached record levels in the runoff.

    Narrative B

    Even though these irregularities may not have affected the final results, they are part of a broader effort to add fraud to the Turkish vote — directly or indirectly. Over and above Erdoğan's nebulous actions in past elections, his government has changed electoral law in the run-up to this presidential contest to randomly select judges on the electoral board and allow ministers to run for parliament while in office. It's time for democracy to regain control of Turkish politics.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 77% chance that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will win the 2023 Presidential Election in Turkey, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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