Tomorrow there will be local elections in Turkey.
This is a repost. I originally posted this
on March 18th but since the election is tomorrow I have reposted it.
I have added a little information. The new information is in italics.
I will write about the results of the election - beginning at 6:00pm local time
(12:00 noon in New York) tomorrow - when the results begin to come in.
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Please note: This is a long post.
If you are only interested in what the results of the election might be,
that information is at the end of the post.
Heavy snow is expected in northeastern Turkey and rain in southeastern Turkey.
The election will be nationwide and the following will be elected:
- Provincial General Councils (Provincial Governors are appointed by the central government.)
- Metropolitan Mayors and Metropolitan Councils
- Metropolitan Borough Mayors and Metropolitan Borough Councils
- City Mayors and City Councils
- Town Mayors and Town Councils
- Neighborhood 'Chiefs' and Neighborhood Councils (in metropolitan boroughs, cities, and towns)
- Village 'Chiefs' and Village Councils (in rural areas)
The Importance of This Election:
This election is generally considered to be a referendum on the actions, policies, behavior, and honesty of the Turkish government and the AKP (the party in power).
The election is also considered to be an indicator of how things might go in the upcoming presidential election, which Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan is believed to be planning to run in.
The Prime Minister, high-level government officials, and high-level AKP officials continuously claim that the government is democratic and that all of its actions are automatically democratic, legitimate, and not open to question because the AKP got 49.80% of the vote in the 2011 general election, which the AKP claims is proof that half of the country supports the government and its actions.
The position of those opposed to the government is that winning an election cannot be cited as proof that a government is democratic, that demoracy is much more than winning an election, that a government's actions are always open to question by the people, and that this government does not have the support of 50% of the people of Turkey.
26 Political Parties Will Participate in the Election:
In the past decade Turkey has basically developed into a four party system with these four parties attracting between 83% and 95% of the vote in the last three elections.
These four main parties are:
- the AKP (the party currently in power), which is conservative, populist, religious, nationalist, and has a desire for Turkey to become a regional power,
- the CHP, which is social democrat, secular, and nationalist,
- the MHP, which is conservative, religious but secular, and nationalist, and
- the BDP which is Kurdish nationalist, leftist, and social democrat.
Whether or not Turkey will remain a four party system greatly depends on what happens in the AKP. If the party splits Turkey may again become a country with five or six major parties.
A summary of the election results for the four main parties in the past five elections in Turkey:
|2002 GE||2004 LE||2007 GE||2009 LE||2011 GE|
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For each of the four major parties there is a minor party which has a similar position to its corresponding major party. These four minor parties are generally considered to currently have the support of 5% to 7% of the electorate.
These four minor parties are:
- the SP, which is similar to the AKP but is considered to be even more religious - SP supporters often vote for the AKP in general elections,
- the DSP, which is very similar to the CHP but can siphon off a small number of votes from the CHP in elections,
- the BBP, which is very similar to the MHP and has a strong base in a few locations in Turkey - the MHP often does not field candidates, or strong candidates, in these locations in local elections and many BBP supporters vote for the MHP in general elections, and
- the HDP, which is a new party and is very similar to the BDP - so far the HDP has made only one significant attempt to draw voters away from the BDP.
There are also 18 other very minor parties which will participate in this election and they are collectively generally considered to currently have the support of 3% to 5% of the electorate.
Political and Economic Background:
The past year has been tumultuous in Turkey:
- Strong dissatisfaction with the government and with social and economic conditions in Turkey has resulted in the Gezi Park and other anti-government protests of the past ten months. The heavy police responses to them have resulted in the deaths of ten people, including two police officers (one fell off a bridge and the other died from a heart attack during protests).
- The Turkish economy has slowed significantly in the past year; the Lira has lost about 23% of its value and the stock market has lost about 30% of its value, GDP growth has decreased and growth of only about 2.5% is forecast for 2014 (~5% annual GDP growth is necessary in Turkey to maintain the current economic status due to Turkey's large population of young people), huge increases in consumer debt have forced the central bank to institute serious limits on consumer borrowing which has resulted in a significant decrease in consumer spending - consumer purchaes with credit cards dropped ~10% last month, the central bank also had to increase its interest rates by about 100% last month - central bank interest rates, which were in the 5%-7% range, were raised to 10%-12% range, inflation and unemployent are increasing, Turkey's balance of trade deficit has continued to increase - to a record $99 billion (~12.5% of GDP) in 2013, and Turkey's current account deficit has also continued to increase - to $56 bilion (~7% of GDP) in 2013 which is the fifth year in which it has been over 5% of GDP.
- The Syrian opposition group and armed rebel groups which the Turkish government supports have imploded, heavily armed al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria along the Turkish-Syrian border have grown dangerously larger and stronger, and the number of Syrians now in Turkey has grown officially to more than 700,000, and unofficially to more than 1,000,000.
- There has been a split in the AKP with one of its factions now in open opposition to the leadership of the party.
- There have been multiple allegations of major corruption in the government and the leadership of the AKP.
Polls, and reporting on polls, has been forbidden in Turkey by the elections board for the 10 days before this election so there are no new polls which might reflect recent changes in public opinion.
Initially, as the campaigns for this election began, the AKP claimed that the party had the support of 50% of the population, in line with the election results of 2011. Currently the party claims that it will 'do better than the last election' but now consider the last election to be the 2009 local elections in which the AKP got 38% of the vote. A few party officials still claim that the AKP will get 45% of the vote in this election, and at least one high-level AKP official has publicly stated that even though he expects the AKP to get about 45% of the vote in this election, it is possible that the party could get only about 33% of the vote.
This week the PM said in a television interview that he expected the AKP to get 54% of the vote in this election.
Polls in Turkey are notoriously unreliable but the general consensus of the polls is that:
- AKP support is around 40%, often a little less than 40%, with some polls putting their support at 35% to 36% and a few at around 45%. The main factor will be how many of the votes which went to the AKP in the 2011 election will go to the SP, the MHP, and the BBP in this election.
- CHP support is around 30% with many polls indicating that it could be slightly more than 30% depending on how many votes go to the DSP.
- MHP support is around 20% with many polls indicating that it could be slightly less than 20% depending on how many votes shift from the AKP to the MHP and on how many votes go to the BBP.
- BDP support is consistently in the 6% to 8% range.
It is also expected that of the four most popular minor parties two of them, the SP and the BBP, will each get at least 2% of the nationwide vote. It is possible they will get more but this depends primarily on how many votes which went to the AKP in the 2011 election will go to the SP and BBP in this election.
The DSP is likely to get at least 1% of the nationwide vote because it has a few local candidates who are popular in a few towns and small cities. Unfortuneately, though, this may result in one or two CHP mayoral candidates losing to AKP candidates.
The HDP is likely to get at least 1% of the nationwide vote in this election primarily due to the votes its candidate for the mayor of Istanbul will get. It is very possible that votes for the HDP's Istanbul mayoral candidate will result in the CHP's mayoral candidate losing to the AKP's mayoral candidate in Istanbul.
The main factor in the unreliability of the polls is that many are paid for by parties, or party supporters, and/or done by polling organizations which are not impartial.
There are many cases where only people in certain neighborhoods, which are known to lean heavily towards a particular party, are surveyed and this results in skewed polls. While at the same time undecided voters, currently 10% to 20%, are often distributed to parties at the whim of the polling company or organization which also leads to skewed polls.
I have seen several polls which also include surveys about approval for the AKP and the government, which is something new in this election, and oddly these surveys show very deep dissatisfaction with and mistrust of the government and the AKP, consistently around 70%, while also claiming that around 40% of those surveyed will vote for the AKP.
Daylight saving time which begins early Sunday morning in Europe will begin early Monday morning in Turkey due to the election.
In local elections parties can put forward candidates, or lists of candidates for the councils, and there can also be independent candidates. Neighborhood and village level candidates, though, are not party-affiliated.
There are no thresholds or runoffs in local elections, whichever mayoral candidate receives the most votes is elected and council seats are apportioned according to the percentages of the votes cast for party lists of candidates.
In general elections, though, there is a 10% threshold for parties to elect MPs to parliament. Only parties who receive 10% or more of the vote nationwide in general elections can have MPs elected to parliament. For this reason the BDP has run its candidates as independents in the past two general elections and 36 of these were elected MPs in 2011.
Voting is mandatory for every citizen who is 18 years old or older and participation is almost always more than 80% and was 87.16% in the 2011 general election.
Soldiers and prisoners, except for those convicted for some classes of minor offenses, cannot vote but prisoners generally do not vote. This is essentially due to the logistics of how soldiers and prisoners would vote.
There is no need to register. Voter registration is automatic when people register their addresses, which is mandatory in Turkey.
Any sort of government issued ID with a photograph is acceptable when voting.
Most polling stations are in schools. Voters can find their polling stations' addresses on the internet or at the office of their neighborhood or village 'chief'.
Only paper ballots are used.
Voters mark the candidates they wish to vote for with a stamp, any writing on a ballot invalidates the ballot.
In a voting booth voters mark (stamp) their ballots, fold them, and place them in envelopes which are also provided. They then drop the envelopes into publicly displayed clear plastic ballot boxes.
There is no early voting except for citizens who will not be in the country on election day. For one month before election day people can vote at airports or border crossings if they wish to when leaving the country.
Local elections are held every five years.
Presidential Elections: The first round of the upcoming election for the president of Turkey will be on August 10th, 2014 and the second round, if necessary, will be on August 24th, 2014. This will be the first popular election of the president of Turkey, previously the president was elected to a single seven year term by the Turkish Parliament. The system was changed by amendments to the Turkish constitution in 2007. Popularly elected presidents can serve a maximum of two five year terms and the current president, Abdullah Gül, is eligible to run in this election.
General Elections: The next general election has to be held by June next year. The 2007 constitutional amendments also reduced the terms for MPs from five years to four years and the MPs elected in the next general election will be elected for four year terms but parliament can call for early elections.
Political parties are allowed to place observers in polling stations and some parties, especially the CHP, have made preparations so that each polling station will have a CHP observer with a communications a reporting system to support them.
On election day:
- in the eastern half of the country voting will be from 7:00am to 4:00pm,
- in the western half of the country voting will be from 8:00am to 5:00pm,
- all alcohol sales are forbidden after 6:00am,
- drinking alcohol in public is forbidden after 6:00am,
- all entertainment establishments have to be closed - except restaurants,
- citizens cannot carry any weapons in public, even those who have gun permits,
- until 6:00pm no media outlet can report on the election, make predictions about the election, give election results, or give analysis of or commentary on the election, and
- between 6:00pm and 9:00pm media outlets can report only official election results but the national election board can decide to lift this restriction earlier.
How Might the Election Turn Out?
Of the 26 parties which will participate in this election:
- the 18 least popular minor parties are very likely to get at least 3% of the vote collectively,
- the four more popular minor parties are very likely to get at least 6% of the vote collectively,
- the BDP is very likely to get at least 6% of the vote,
- the MHP is very likely to get at least 18% of the vote, and
- the CHP is very likely to get at least 28% of the vote.
If the above were to occur, the AKP would only be able to get 39% of the vote. This would be essentially the same percentage the AKP got in the 2009 local election, which the AKP would claim as a victory. It would also be 10% less than the percentage the AKP got in the 2011 general election, which the opposition would claim to be a defeat for the AKP.
However, if the 18 least popular minor parties, and/or the four more popular minor parties, and/or the BDP, and/or the MHP, and/or the CHP were to get more votes than the percentages mentioned above, the AKP would get less than 39% of the vote, which would generally be seen as a major defeat for the AKP.
The five mayoral races which are getting the most attention are the races for the mayors of metropolitan Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Adana.
Poll numbers for all these races vary wildly so making predictions for them is difficult.
The mayors of metropolitan Istanbul and Ankara are from the AKP, and the CHP would like to win these two races. It is generally believed that were the AKP to lose one or both of these elections it would seriously weaken the party.
It seems that the incumbent AKP mayor is ahead in Istanbul, mostly due to the votes which the HDP candidate is attracting, but the CHP has put forward a very strong candidate.
In the Ankara race the incumbent AKP mayor also seems to be ahead but the CHP has put forward a very strong candidate who many believe has a real chance of winning.
The CHP is strong in Izmir and Antalya and the mayors of metropolitan Izmir and Antalya are from the CHP, and the AKP would very much like to win these two races.
Both the CHP and the AKP have put forward strong candidates in the Izmir and Antalya races. Under normal circumstances the CHP's candidates would be expected to win these two races fairly easily. However, the central government has greatly expanded the city limits of all metropolitan cities in Turkey to include huge rural areas within the city limits. These rural areas may vote AKP, and if this happens it could make it more difficult for the CHP to win in Izmir and Antalya.
In Adana the AKP, the CHP, and the MHP are all fairly strong but the MHP is generally considered to be the strongest of the three in Adana.
In the 2009 local elections the popular incumbent MHP mayor won, but he was soon forced out of office during a corruption investigation which many believe was contrived. As a result Adana currently has an interim mayor. The MHP candidate for the metropolitan mayor of Adana is considered to be strong and the former MHP mayor supports him so it is generally believed that the MHP candidate will probably win this election.