Turkish local elections, 2014

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Turkish local elections, 2014
Turkey
2009 ←
March 30, 2014 (2014-03-30) and June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01)
→ 2019

All 30 metropolitan and 1,351 district municipal mayors of Turkey
All 1,251 provincial and 20,500 municipal councillors of Turkey
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Recep Tayyip Erdogan.PNG Kemal Kilicdaroglu.png Devlet Bahçeli TBMM.jpg
Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Devlet Bahçeli
Party AK Party CHP MHP
Leader since 2002 2010 1997
Last election 1,452 mayors, 16,621 councillors, 38.39%[1][2][3][4] 506 mayors, 6,737 councillors, 23.08%[1][2][3][4] 484 mayors, 6,419 councillors, 15.97%[1][2][3][4]
Mayors 818 232 169
Councillors 11,309 4,320 3,675
Popular vote 17,802,976 10,938,262 7,399,119
Percentage 42.87% 26.34% 17.82%
Swing Increase4.48% Increase3.26% Increase1.85%

Local elections were held in Turkey on 30 March 2014, with some repeated on 1 June 2014. Metropolitan and district mayors as well as their municipal council members in cities, and muhtars and "elderly councils" in rural areas (and also in mahalles within urban areas) were elected. In light of the controversy around the elections, it was viewed as a referendum on the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[5] About 50 million people were eligible to vote.

The elections were marred by allegations of electoral fraud[6][7][8] and violence, with both opposition and ruling party candidates alike refusing to recognise a wide variety of results. Significant cases of fraud in Ankara[9] and Yalova[10] were referred to the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey for reviewal. Regardless, the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Parti or AKP) declared victory in the early hours of 31 March,[11] gaining 42.89% of the vote, 818 municipalities and 11,309 councillors.[12][13][14][15][16][17] The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) came second with 26.34%, 232 municipalities and 4,320 councillors, announcing that it would be filing complaints against alleged electoral manipulation.[14][15][12][13][18][19][20] Gradual post-election revelations of alleged widespread irregularities in several cities sparked pro-democracy protests after provisional results were announced.[21][22] By 4 April 2014, numerous municipalities changed mayors following recounts.[23] The Electoral Council cancelled the elections in some areas and scheduled a repeat on 1 June. These most notably occurred in Yalova and Ağrı, in which the ruling AK Party had lost by a small margin to the CHP and BDP respectively on March 30.

Background[edit]

Turkish local elections are held every five years in order to elect mayors to 30 metropolitan municipalities, 1,008 district municipalities and 2,187 town municipalities.[24] In addition, an excess of 53,450 neighbourhood leaders (muhtars) are elected, though most are non-partisan and do not have any declared political allegiance.[25] Elderly and municipal council compositions were also elected through a separate ballot. The previous elections were held on 29 March 2009 and were won by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AK Party with 38.8% of the vote.[26]

Local government reform[edit]

Before the elections, the numbers of councillors and mayors were reduced during the 2013 Turkish local government reorganisation. During the reorganisation, 1,040 beldes were abolished, leaving the number of small town municipalities at 394 and contributing to the reduction in the number of mayors elected in 2014 in comparison to 2009.[27][28]

The following table shows the numbers of metropolitan and district municipalities, as well as provincial and municipal councillors elected in 2009 and in 2014. In local elections, municipal mayors and councillors are the only partisan officials elected.

Office Elected in 2009 Elected in 2014 Change
Metropolitan municipalities 16[1] 30[12] Increase14
District municipalities 2,903[2] 1,351[13] Decrease1,552
Provincial councillors 3,281[3] 1,251[14] Decrease2,030
Municipal councillors 32,392[4] 20,500[15] Decrease11,892
Total 38,592 23,132 Decrease15,460

2013–2014 anti-government protests[edit]

In 2013, a spate of anti-government protests and counter measures took place. The 2014 local elections are the first elections since the protests, and have thus been seen as a test for the government's popularity following a criticism both domestically and internationally for what was perceived to be a crackdown on peaceful protestors.[29][30] The controversy surrounding the police response resulted in Germany seeking to delay European Union accession talks with Turkey.[31]

17 December corruption scandal[edit]

On 17 December 2013, police arrested several close associates and family members of government ministers as part of a corruption investigation. Prime Minister Erdoğan responded by either dismissing or reassigning thousands of police and judicial personnel while denying all allegations of wrongdoing.

A string of recorded phone calls between government ministers and close supporters allegedly discussing corruption were made public following the start of the corruption scandal. On 24 February 2014, a 10-minute phone call between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan were made public, in which the Prime Minister was warning his son of police searches in other government ministers' residences and telling him to "nullify" any cash which might be stored in their own. The tape caused particular damnation, after which CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu advised the Prime Minister to "flee by helicopter."[32] The Prime Minister responded by calling the tape a "montage," though this claim could not be verified by the national scientific development agency TÜBİTAK.[33][34][35] It was reported that six people were removed from their roles at TÜBİTAK for refusing to falsify the recording,[36][37] with one reporting that he was openly asked by superiors to manipulate reports related to the recordings.[38][39]

Following the release, thousands took to the streets demanding the government's resignation.[40][41][42] Protesters threw fake money in the air and also left empty shoe boxes near AK Party offices, symbolising the US$4.5 million found stuffed into shoe-boxes at the home of Halkbank's former manager Süleyman Aslan[43] Though protests were not as large as the June 2013 Gezi protests, the police were again criticised for a brutal crackdown.[44][45]

Judiciary, Internet & MİT laws[edit]

The government responded to the tape revelations by pushing through three controversial laws which would tighten the AKP's grip on the judiciary,[46] allow greater control over internet access,[47] and increase the powers of Turkey's intelligence services (MİT).[48] While some saw these laws as necessary to restore peace throughout the country and increase internet safety, the opposition accused the government for openly attempting to increase their powers in order to further defame the rule of law.[citation needed] Regardless, the AKP's sizeable parliamentary majority led to all laws being passed by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The laws also caused a rift between Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, who criticised some aspects of the laws.[citation needed] Regardless of their differences, the President signed the bills into law despite speculation that he might veto them.

The new laws drew criticism from the public, with several demonstrators taking to the streets accusing the government of encroachments against their rights and privacy.[49] Protestors again clashed with police, though the protests failed to materialise back to June 2013 levels.[50][51]

Twitter and YouTube bans[edit]

On 20 March 2014, ten days before the elections, Prime Minister Erdoğan threatened to "wipe out" Twitter during an election rally in Bursa.[52] Thousands of Turkish web users found that they could not access the site hours after the speech, with the government claiming that Twitter had failed repeatedly to adhere to Turkish court orders requiring the removal of some links.[53] Despite causing outrage, the Twitter ban was almost completely overcome by users simply changing DNS settings.[54] The government retaliated just a few days before the elections by blocking Google's DNS service, making defiance more difficult.[55][56][57] Regardless, #erdoganblockedtwitter, #twitterisblockedinturkey and #turkeyblockedtwitter began trending worldwide soon after news of the ban was made public.[58]

On 21 March 2014, Ankara's Attorney General issued a statement denying the government's claims that they had a court order validating the ban on Twitter.[59][60][61] The ban's practical failure and its violation of internet freedoms received criticism, and the US House of Representatives was presented with two resolutions condemning[clarification needed] the Turkish government for blocking Twitter and YouTube.[62][63] On 2 April, 3 days after the elections, the Turkish Constitutional Court issued a verdict annulling the Twitter ban for its violation of Article 26 (Freedom of Expression) of the Turkish Constitution.[64][65]

On 28 March 2014, the telecommunications regulator (TİB) made use of the government's new controversial internet law by blocking YouTube without court order.[66] The ban occurred shortly after the release and placing on YouTube of a recorded conversation allegedly between the deputy armed forces chief of staff Yaşar Güler, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Ministry of Intelligence Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.[67][68] In the conversation, Fidan was allegedly recorded considering a deliberate act of military aggression against Syria in order to spark a war.[69][70] While not confirming the validity of the recording, Prime Minister Erdoğan claimed that the making of the recording was "treacherous," and that YouTube had subsequently been blocked due to concerns for national security.[71]

Pre-election rigging controversies[edit]

In the lead-up to elections, both the ruling AKP and opposition parties warned that preparations for substantial electoral fraud were being taken.[72]

In December 2013, it emerged that several voters had been made members of different political parties without their approval in an attempt to bolster support without their consent. Voters affected appealed to the Prosecutor General's office after it emerged that their details had been used to register them.[73]

On 29 February 2014, a recording of a phone call between Ankara metropolitan mayor Melih Gökçek and the Prime Minister's secretary Mustafa Varank allegedly depicted both agreeing to censor the opposition CHP's election posters.[74][75] The recording has not yet been proven to be either legitimate or fake.

Concerns were raised in Ankara as CHP metropolitan mayoral candidate Mansur Yavaş claimed that there were 58,000 duplicate records in Ankara alone that would allow select voters to vote twice. He also announced that his election team would do everything to prevent such manipulation. The MHP candidate Mevlüt Karakaya also called for voters and ballot officials to remain vigilant. Meanwhile, the incumbent AKP candidate Melih Gökçek accused "marginal groups" of plotting to rig the elections, blaming them for the AKP's losses in Ankara's Yenimahalle, Etimesgut and Gölbaşı districts in the 2009 elections.[76] The provisional results in Ankara, which initially showed a 0.9% lead for the AKP, were widely criticised by the opposition and caused a massive recounting campaign by the CHP.

Turkish Newspaper Cumhuriyet claimed that the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey (YSK) had printed 141,654,161 ballot papers despite an electorate formed of 52,695,831 voters.[77] Some sources, including the YSK itself, put the number of ballot papers printed to between 144 and 151 million. The YSK responded by defending its decision, saying that it was required by law to send 15% more ballot papers extra to each ballot box. The YSK also re-iterated that more than one ballot paper was required per voter since different ballots were used to elect municipal mayors, muhtars and city councils.[78] Nevertheless, members of the opposition raised concern on how the extra ballot papers would be utilised, with MHP MPs warning that the spare ballot papers would be used by the PKK to increase the votes of the pro-Kurdish BDP in the south-east.[79]

Several controversies following the distribution of ballot papers to voter's residences before the elections raised concern about the validity of the YSK's voter records. Upon receiving extra ballot papers, several families complained to the YSK, claiming to have received more ballot papers than necessary. It was also observed that dead citizens were on the electoral roll, and several ballot papers had been sent to persons who had been dead for a considerable amount of time or false addresses which did not exist.[79]

On 15 March 2014, Ankara's AKP mayor Melih Gökçek spoke on live television regarding the possible use of Chinese temporary tattoo pens whilst recording the results from each ballot box. This would allegedly mean that some results would completely disappear shortly after being recorded, allowing "some groups" to edit the numbers while transporting the ballot result papers to the YSK.[72] The opposition CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş replied by calling the mayor "paranoid," adding that he was a "mayor from the ruling party. Rather than announcing these allegations on television, he should be taking legal action."[80]

On 29 March 2014, the police received a tip-off that large numbers of fake ballot papers were being stored at a printing press in the district of Gaziemir in Izmir.[81] Despite conducting a detailed search of the compound, the police failed to find any fake votes.[82][83] Despite reports by several news agencies, the allegations that a van full of ballot papers with a pre-printed "yes" vote for the AKP was impounded on in Izmir's Çınarlı district[84][85][86] could not be verified due to a similar situation being reported before the 2011 general elections.[87]

Another debate was on the voting rights of the 250,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey due to the Syrian Civil War. The controversy began in late 2013 after the CHP's deputy leader Gürsel Tekin claimed that several refugees had been registered on the electoral roll.[88] The Ministry of the Interior responded by stating that a non-citizen within Turkey had to wait five years before being eligible to vote. However, it emerged that several Syrian refugees had been made Turkish citizens already.[89] While the opposition claimed that Syrian votes would be used to bolster AKP support due to their lax border policies,[90] the government and the Association for Solidarity with Refugees denied these claims.[91][92] Nevertheless, three Syrians were caught attempting to cast votes during the elections.[93]

Parties[edit]

The incumbent national party is the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and its principle opposition parties are the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is a Kurdish party; the new left wing party, the Peoples' Democratic Party, is allied with it.[94]

Campaign[edit]

Large-scale election rallies dominated the pre-election political scene, mostly being held by the governing AKP and the main opposition CHP.

Conduct[edit]

About 50 million people were eligible to vote in 1379 electoral sees. On election day, violence resulted in eight deaths. The Doğan news agency reported six deaths and four injuries in the village of Yuvacık in Şanlıurfa. It also reported that in Hatay rival families fought with clubs, knives and guns in support of their respective candidates resulting in two deaths and nine injuries.[5][95] In the early hours of 31 March, 1,418 claims of electoral fraud were reported.[96] Power cuts during the counting process in some provinces,[97] as well as the publication of widely different results by different news agencies, also caused controversy.[98]

Results[edit]

Below are the results for the elected councillors and municipal mayors. It should be noted that the number of councillor and mayoral positions up for election in 2014 vary widely in comparison to 2009 (See the local government reform section or 2013 Turkish local government reorganisation). For this reason, the changes per party in terms of officials elected between 2009 and 2014 are not representative of party performance. Rather, the change in proportion of officials held per party is a more accurate comparison between party performances since 2009.

Metropolitan municipality results[edit]

District municipality results[edit]

Municipal councillor results[edit]

Provincial councillor results[edit]

Results by province[edit]

The following results show winners by province as of 1 April 2014. Metropolitan provinces are in bold. AKP denotes provinces won by the Justice & Development Party, CHP denotes provinces won by the Republican People's Party, MHP denotes provinces won by the Nationalist Movement Party and BDP denotes provinces won by the Peace and Democracy Party.

Province Party
Adana MHP
Adıyaman AKP
Afyonkarahisar AKP
Ağrı BDP
Amasya AKP
Ankara AKP
Antalya AKP
Artvin AKP
Aydın CHP
Balıkesir AKP
Bilecik AKP
Bingöl AKP
Bitlis BDP
Bolu AKP
Burdur CHP
Bursa AKP
Çanakkale CHP
 
Province Party
Çankırı AKP
Çorum AKP
Denizli AKP
Diyarbakır BDP
Edirne CHP
Elazığ AKP
Erzincan AKP
Erzurum AKP
Eskişehir CHP
Gaziantep AKP
Giresun CHP
Gümüşhane AKP
Hakkâri BDP
Hatay CHP
Isparta MHP
Mersin MHP
İstanbul AKP
 
Province Party
İzmir CHP
Kars MHP
Kastamonu AKP
Kayseri AKP
Kırklareli CHP
Kırşehir AKP
Kocaeli AKP
Konya AKP
Kütahya AKP
Malatya AKP
Manisa MHP
Kahramanmaraş AKP
Mardin IND.
Muğla CHP
Muş AKP
Nevşehir AKP
Niğde AKP
 
Province Party
Ordu AKP
Rize AKP
Sakarya AKP
Samsun AKP
Siirt BDP
Sinop CHP
Sivas AKP
Tekirdağ CHP
Tokat AKP
Trabzon AKP
Tunceli BDP
Şanlıurfa AKP
Uşak AKP
Van BDP
Yozgat AKP
Zonguldak CHP
Aksaray AKP
 
Province Party
Bayburt AKP
Karaman AKP
Kırıkkale AKP
Batman BDP
Şırnak BDP
Bartın MHP
Ardahan AKP
Iğdır BDP
Yalova CHP
Karabük MHP
Kilis AKP
Osmaniye MHP
Düzce AKP

Complaints & recounts[edit]

Provisional results in several districts were contested by all major parties, including the governing AKP, claiming misconduct during the counting process and thus demanding a recount. Applications for recounts were made to the YSK shortly after the elections concluded.[99][100]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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