I have been following the elections in Turkey very closely, and it appears that the governing AKP engaged in fraudulent behavior at the point of data entry, first at the polling station summaries and then at entering those summaries into the ‘official’ database.
That is what the online social media reports emerging now indicate, including those from imprisoned HDP leader Demirtaş who also reported the exact manner in which the fraud was operated.
Almost none of this dispute is reflected in the mainstream print media or television in Turkey, which is controlled almost entirely by the ruling AKP.
Since the Supreme Election Council (YSK) released the election results to political parties yesterday, the opposition parties were able to compare their tallies from ballot boxes with the “official” results. The two leading opposition parties—the CHP and HDP/YSP—were hit the most.
They have already disputed more than a thousand cases.
Based on my observations of the entire process, I surmise that the actual result is the reverse of what was presented as the final figures: I think Kılıçdaroğlu probably got 51.5% (instead of 45%) and Erdoğan got 45.5 %(instead of 49.5%). (Another telling sign of tampering: the votes of the third presidential candidate stayed exactly the same during the entire process of the opening of the ballot boxes, showing no variation whatsoever from beginning to end).
I think Kılıçdaroğlu did indeed win during the first round, but was cheated out of his victory.
In terms of the accompanying parliamentary elections, I think those results too were doctored to give the AKP coalition a parliamentary majority of 322 seats.
I would argue that it was not the AKP coalition, but probably the CHP coalition that attained this majority. The systemic intervention in this case seems to be one of flipping the CHP votes to AKP, and the HDP votes to MHP.
Given the closeness of the election, the AKP cadres probably thought they could get away with this pretty minimal degree of meddling, because the two sides were close in numbers. They only needed to tamper and change about 4-5% of the vote, and they did so mostly in the mainly Kurdish southeastern provinces—where the HDP gets the most votes—or at the 20 thousand polling stations that did not have opposition party representatives.
I have been investigating election tampering in Turkey ever since my colleague, Ken Kollman a political scientist at the University of Michigan, developed an algorithm for election tampering and applied it to the 2015 elections in Turkey: “Were There Irregularities in Turkey’s 2015 Elections? We Used This New Forensic Toolkit to Check.”
The piece argues that during the 2015 elections, the election fraud occurred mostly in the provinces, with HDP votes getting siphoned off to the AKP. At the time, I sent the piece to HDP members I knew, but was told they had no power to challenge the fraud on their own.
The situation is different now: since the HDP decided to support the CHP during 2023 election, the CHP certainly has the power, as the main opposition party, to go after the fraud.
Of course the whole situation is nightmarish, because Erdoğan has also destroyed the accountability of election results by tampering with and appointing all members of theSupreme Election Council that will ultimately declare and approve the final election outcome.
The legal system has also been compromised by Erdoğan, so that there is no rule of law in Turkey.
I now understand, with a heavy heart, that this is how fascism operates—even when you see the fraud, there is nothing you can do about it, because the legal system that is supposed to adjudicate it is totally compromised. I feel I now better understand what happened in the Weimar Republic.