The HDP and election security

As the election campaign continues at full speed, the most noteworthy development of recent weeks was the attacks against the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Recent reports have shown that over 120 attacks on HDP political activities have occurred, including over 60 HDP offices being burned. The bomb attacks in Adana and Mersin were particularly worrisome. It is clear that in some unholy quarters there is a plan to draw the HDP into a vortex of violence and thus push the party below the 10 percent threshold. The government is showing an alarming lack of concern about or attention to this issue. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who is violating the Constitution on a daily basis by openly campaigning in favor of the ruling party — has not condemned the bomb attacks. It appears these attacks are condoned by the government. The perpetrators seem to have a free hand. We should all brace ourselves for more violence.
The leadership of the HDP should be commended for keeping their restless followers under control. The Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leadership have also shown remarkable wisdom in dealing with this delicate issue. The opposition parties understand very well that it is extremely important that this election take place in an orderly manner. This is probably one of the most unfair elections in republican history as the president, the prime minister, the whole state apparatus, the Anadolu news agency and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) as well as pro-government business and media are campaigning relentlessly in favor of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). As public opinion polls show the HDP around the 10 percent threshold, the governmentand’s primary target has become the HDP, and its co-chair, Selahattin Demirtai, personally. If the HDP passes the 10 percent threshold, the AKP might even be out of office.
This sort of tension brings to mind what sort of election night we will experience. The memories of election fraud in Ankara and anduskandudar in the local elections are still very fresh. Opposition parties need to prepare well for that night and make sure they have a representative at every ballot box. They need to train their representatives in aance and warn them about the fine details of what might happen. First of all, they need to prepare them for the strong possibility of and”psychological perception shapingand” by TRT and the pro-government media. During the local elections this worked well, as the pro-government media projected wide margins in favor of the ruling party in order to facilitate opposition representatives leaving voting stations early. The key to obtaining the true results is to set up an effective data center that will collect all of the information independent of the Supreme Election Board (YSK). There is no faith in the YSK election software system that is under the control of the Ministry of Justice. Opposition parties need to brace themselves for the possibility of ministers intervening at ballot box collection centers as we saw in Ankara last year. A physical presence at these collection centers matters and may prevent fraud.
Opposition parties should prepare their redress petitions quickly and correctly. They also need to have efficient and knowledgeable representatives at the YSK. The real challenge after a long and tiring campaign is to make sure that the counting is done properly and that the peopleand’s will is accurately reflected in the outcome.
Until last yearand’s local elections, Turkish elections were generally considered clean. However, the local elections seriously dented that image. All parties have a responsibility to have this election completed in an orderly fashion. The HDP has put up a brave challenge to the 10 percent threshold. It needs to be commended for that. Unfortunately, President Erdogan has carried the ruling party and its followers to such extremes that an election loss is seen as a catastrophe. Let us hope that common sense and wisdom will prevail over the divisive and polarizing politics of Mr. Erdogan. Turkey will emerge stronger if the Turkish electorate will precipitate change at the ballot box.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman