ISTANBUL BLOG: Opposition election surveillance official leaves post ahead of final vote

ISTANBUL BLOG: Opposition election surveillance official leaves post ahead of final vote
Kilicdaroglu (centre) has said goodbye to Onursal Adiguzel (left). Duygu Adiguzel (right), Onursal Adiguzel’s wife, serves as a director in Kadikoy Municipality, a CHP stronghold, in Istanbul. In the CHP, everything works on merit. / chp
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade May 16, 2023

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who on May 28 will face Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a second-round presidential election head-to-head, has fired a deputy responsible for election surveillance, local media reports suggest.

Onursal Adiguzel (@onursaladiguzel) wrote on Twitter that he had resigned.

Since Erdogan came out on top against Kilicdaroglu in the first-round vote on May 14, there has been a good deal of unease in Turkey as to how the forecasting of so many pundits and pollsters—with some observers even having predicted that Erdogan would be dealt a knockout blow by six-party opposition unity candidate Kilicdaroglu—could have been so wrong. Naturally there is a discussion of how much ballot box fraud could have featured in the vote.

Turkey faced its first widespread election thievery under the Erdogan regime in the 2017 constitutional referendum. Not that all previous elections could be described as chaste. For instance, in the run-up to the November 2015 elections, there were deadly bombings that killed hundreds.

After the referendum vote, with allegations of blatant tampering of the vote in the air, the opposition nevertheless turned tail and disappeared into the evening.

Prior to the snap elections in 2018, the so-called opposition promised everyone that this time they were ready to prevent any substantial election fraud. But their efforts were a great failure. They again turned tail and vanished into the evening.

In January 2019, prior to the March 2019 local polls, bne IntelliNews noted: “Adiguzel does the math/
Onursal Adiguzel—the CHP [main opposition Republican People’s Party] deputy head who prepared a livestream election results monitoring system that collapsed on the evening of last year’s June 24 snap parliamentary and presidential polls—determined that a total of 6,389 voters over the age of 100 had been identified. Adiguzel, who never has provided a satisfactory explanation as to what went wrong with his monitoring—he has blamed data failures attributed to the other opposition parties—might do well to reflect that if the imaginary Mrs Ekici was 65 years-old rather than 165, the number of voters older than 100 he detected would have been 6,388. Who can seriously say how many rogue voter registrations there might be out there?”

Adiguzel presented himself as a success story when it came to the operation he ran to safeguard voting in the local elections in March 2019, in which the CHP won big victories in Ankara and Istanbul. However, in reality, that success should actually be attributed to Canan Kaftancioglu, the CHP city chief in Istanbul. She simply and absolutely kept tabs on all the ballot boxes.

And she did it again in Istanbul amid the voting at the weekend. Her team caught some people, including one police officer, who were attempting to cast a second vote. Violent attacks were reported to the police and the ballot boxes were kept under a strict watch.

As a result, Kilicdaroglu got 48.55% in Istanbul versus Erdogan’s 46.69% and Sinan Ogan’s 4.51%.

It goes without saying, it is impossible to eliminate all vote theft, but it seems that Kaftancioglu has managed to at least halve the 10pp “thievery margin” that some critics talk about when it comes to Turkey’s elections.

On May 16, media reports indicated that Kilicdaroglu has ordered Kaftancioglu and Istanbul CHP mayor Ekrem Imamoglu to take over the management of the election security efforts for the second-round vote.

Kaftancioglu herself won an election to become the head of CHP Istanbul.

The CHP has millions of highly competent supporters, including academicians, lawyers, engineers and many other professionals from every field of expertise. But it seems that all politicians in Turkey are incompetent not because Turkish voters are idiots but because of Turkey’s infamous “political parties law”.

The law was introduced by the coup regime of 1980. Simply put, it creates little dictators within the political parties. The financing sources of the political parties are not transparent. Money (grey and black) talks.

When someone becomes the chair of the party, it is impossible to change him because he chooses which party members vote in the intraparty elections.

Kilicdaroglu has once more promised to amend the political parties law if he wins the presidency. However, the law does not stipulate that all party chairs are obliged to manage their parties as little dictators.

The law gives power to the party leader, but there is no obligation to use that power. So, nothing has prohibited Kilicdaroglu from democratically managing the CHP. He could at least have listened to his rival Ilhan Cihaner’s speech given at the last intraparty election, rather than leaving the saloon.

Based on the official results of the May 14 elections as given by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), media pundits are again accusing Turks of idiocy. Look, they say, Erdogan’s vote did not even decline in the earthquake zone where tens of thousands died because of shoddy constructions built by corrupt builders who were allowed to flourish under his rule.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Erdogan’s junior coalition partner, officially took 10% of the parliamentary vote. So nationalism in Turkey is on the rise? If this number is correct, it can only show that the MHP is able to provide benefits to more people than was realised.

Twits: Nationalism in Turkey is on the rise. Kurds have voted for the MHP.

However, the simple question to ask is: “Have you counted the votes?” Nope, they are “interpreting the available numbers”.

When they interpret the official macro data, they also provide Turks with the definition of inflation. Because Turks are idiots, you see. They are not aware that a decline in inflation does not mean a decline in prices.

There is also a fetish for “minutes with a wet signature” found all over the opposition media in Turkey. Ballot box committee members count the votes, then they sign copies of minutes.

There is a belief that these documents show the exact results. If the opposition has no committee member or the member was hospitalised following a violent attack, how can these documents ensure that no fake votes were cast?

Twit: This is the reason why Selo Demirtash is in jail and the other so-called opposition chairs are not. Read the details of how thievery works in his Twitter streams at @hdpdemirtas.

The media pundits should enjoy the “wet signatures” from the ballot boxes in the video below.

Video: More twits: There are some daft-as-you-like thieves who record themselves.

Twit: And what about the ones that you have not detected?

As a fillip for the regime in the lead-up to the second-round voting, media reports suggested on May 16 that Turkish gendarmerie forces have clashed with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

The potential for widespread violence in Turkey remains the main concern in the period ahead.