Leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said his party does not trust Turkey’s Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) to ensure election security and has been working on the issue for one and a half years, local media reported on Thursday.
Election security has been a significant concern in Turkey, with various issues arising during past elections. One of the main concerns involves the potential political interference in the operations of the YSK and the state-run Anadolu news agency, which could affect the fairness and transparency of elections as well as the announcement of results.
There also have been allegations of harassment, intimidation and even violence against opposition candidates and supporters and concerns about the accuracy and transparency of voter registration and ballot-counting processes. Some reports have highlighted irregularities in voter registration lists, such as the inclusion of deceased individuals or ineligible voters. Some critics have also raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of electronic voting systems and the potential for tampering or manipulation of electronic votes.
Speaking during a live broadcast on Sözcü TV on Wednesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party has been working on election security for the past one and a half years since they don’t trust the YSK or Anadolu.
“They started withholding some data in the İstanbul elections. The Supreme Board of Elections stopped and didn’t release the data. However … we knew we would win,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He was referring to the 2019 local elections. Anadolu, a major source of election data in the country that tabulates the vote counts and distributes that information to the media, stopped updating the results of the İstanbul mayoral election for 13 hours, finally announcing CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu as the winner of the race.
İmamoğlu ended the years-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in İstanbul when he defeated the AKP’s mayoral candidate twice in the local elections of 2019. He won the rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.
Regarding their work on election security, the CHP leader said that thousands of their ballot box officers were trained how to observe the ballot box and what to do during the counting and voting processes. He said they were warned to be present during the counting of the votes and not leave for any reason.
“They will carefully examine the vote tabulations and pay attention when the numbers are being transferred to another document. … After signing [the tabulations], they will take a photo of them with their mobile phones and send them to our headquarters. … Our friends will also be responsible for the [safe] transportation of the bags [used to carry the ballots],” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader also released a video on Twitter with the note “Dirty Business” late on Wednesday in which he accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of doing everything in their power to “manipulate” the parliamentary and presidential elections slated for May 14.
Kirli işler. pic.twitter.com/MziGiPSPJo
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) April 26, 2023
“Every day, thousands of fake news stories are being spread through WhatsApp and Telegram groups. In İstanbul’s Sultanbeyli district, a printing house is producing fake party brochures with the CHP logo, portraying our party as terrorist sympathizers. … Billion-dollar foundations of Erdoğan’s princes and princesses have been turned into centers for dirty campaigns,” he said.