SUAT – Revisiting election fraud

Revisiting election fraudThis week an interesting development reminded us again about the fateful local elections of March 30, 2014. Necmettin Kara, who was in charge of a polling booth in the KaIIthane district of Istanbul during the local election, confessed in court on Tuesday that he had tampered with the result sheets in two places.

For those who were involved in the local election campaigns, this news came as bitter memory of what transpired during the local elections. Many of us know very well what happened that night and how the results of the local election were tilted in many districts in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

However, the court case against Mr Kara and the evidence emerging from there verify a widespread trend in that election.I was the campaign manager for Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP)andidate Mansur YavaI in Ankara and a close witness to the mayoral race in Ankara As we repeatedly demonstrated after election fraud took place in Ankara, the outcome of the election was taken away from YavaI and remains questionable, as 23 percent of the ballot box sheets (amounting to approximately 711,000 votes) remain unstamped and thus invalid.

From numerous eyewitness accounts, it is now clear that an organized effort was underway whereby ballot box sheets were tampered with or exchanged with fake ones. The whole fraud operation facilitated the transfer of approximately 80,000 votes from the CHP candidate to the AKP candidate.

The Supreme Election Board (YSK) announced that the AKP won the Ankara mayoral race by 31,636 votes, which is an extremely small margin in light of the high number of invalid ballot box sheets. Numerous petitions could not be examined properly by the council, as it was subjected to immense pressure from the government.

The court proceeding of the KaIIthane case documents show the extent to which fraud took place in the March local elections. Ankara was an especially dramatic case, and there is no doubt that its political significance far outweighs that of the KaIIthane case.

Turkeyand#39s elections need to be monitored very carefully. In view of the extremely polarizing political atmosphere and the ruling partyand#39s past record, there is every reason to be concerned about the 2015 general election.

Here, the task at hand is two-fold: First, the opposition parties must become properly organized so as to facilitate acceptable forms of monitoring on their part second, international and NGO observation must be secured to bring about a free and fair election in 2015. The delegation of the European Union in Ankara has a special responsibility to monitor and communicate its findings to European capitals.

Turkey used to be a country where elections were by and large considered clean and legitimate. One of the greatest sins the ruling party has committed is to have cast doubt about the democratic legitimacy of our elections.

2015 should not be a repeat of what happened in the March local elections. Whatever the outcome, we must ensure that the will of the Turkish electorate is properly reflected in the final results.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman