Siirt Province by-election, 2003

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Siirt Province by-election, 2003

← 2002 March 9, 2003 2007 →

All 3 seats of the Province of Siirt to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Turnout 61.77%

  First party Second party Third party
  Recep Tayyip Erdogan 2010.jpg Deniz Baykal2.jpg Doğu Perinçek (cropped).jpg
Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Deniz Baykal Doğu Perinçek
Party AK Party CHP İP
Leader since 2001 1992 1992
Last election 1 seat, 17.56% 1 seat, 8.92% 0 seats, 0.14%
Seats won 3 0 0
Seat change Increase2 Decrease1 ±0
Popular vote 55,203 8,972 500
Percentage 84.82% 13.79% 0.77%
Swing Increase67.26% Increase4.87% Increase0.63%

Siirt by-election 2003.png
By-election results by district

Members of Parliament before election

Mervan Gül (AKP)
Mehmet Fadıl Akgündüz (IND)
Ekrem Bilek (CHP)

Elected Members of Parliament

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (AKP)
Öner Ergenç (AKP)
Öner Gülyeşil (AKP)

The 2003 by-election in the Province of Siirt was held on 9 March 2003 in order to elect three Members of Parliament from the eastern Turkish province of Siirt to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The by-election was held four months after the 2002 general election in November, which the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey declared null and void in Siirt due to voting irregularities in the district of Pervari. The council decided on 2 December 2002 that the complaints by the local electoral authorities had influenced on the election result, thus calling a by-election.[1]

The by-election remains a significant event in Turkish politics, since it allowed Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to run for parliament. Despite having won the 2002 general election with nearly a two-thirds supermajority, Erdoğan had been barred from running for office due to a previous conviction for inciting religious intolerance in 1998. The AKP government, led by the party's co-founder Prime Minister Abdullah Gül, annulled Erdoğan's political ban and thus allowed him to run in the by-election. Gül subsequently resigned and Erdoğan became the 25th Prime Minister of Turkey on 14 March 2003.

Four parties contested the by-election, as opposed to the 19 that contested the 2002 general election. Similar to general elections, the by-election elected three MPs through a party-list proportional representation system using the D'Hondt method. The parties contesting the election were the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Workers' Party (İP) and the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP).[2] The AKP won all three seats up for election with 84.82% of the votes, gaining the two other seats that had been won by the CHP and an independent candidate in November 2002. The CHP came second with 13.79% of the vote and lost their seat despite increasing their vote share since November.

Background[edit]

The Pervari district of Siirt, where alleged irregularities occurred

The Province of Siirt is a province in the south-east Anatolia region of Turkey with a predominantly Kurdish population. With an electorate in 2003 of approximately 119,198, it elects three of the 550 MPs to the Grand National Assembly. In the 2002 general election, the province was won by the Kurdish nationalist Democratic People's Party (DHP), which gained 32.17% of the votes. Since the party polled below 10% nationally, it was unable to win any parliamentary seats. According to the Turkish electoral system, the DHP's votes were allocated to the winning party of the election, namely the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had come second with 17.56% of the vote. Turkish businessman Fadıl Akgündüz was elected as an independent with 13.65% of the votes, coming third. The CHP came fifth with 8.92% of the vote, but won the province's final MP since it was the only other political party apart from the AKP to poll above 10% nationwide.

Siirt shown within Turkey

In the 2002 general election, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP won 363 seats in Parliament and formed the first single-party government since 1987. While serving as Mayor of Istanbul in 1998, he had been convicted of reciting a poem which incited religious intolerance in Siirt and sentenced to 10 months in prison. After serving four months, Erdoğan founded the AKP in 2001 as a moderately Islamist political party, capitalising on voter dissatisfaction with the existing political parties and their poor economic records. His imprisonment forced him to give up the mayoralty and resulted in a political ban. Despite being the AKP leader, Erdoğan was unable to seek parliamentary election in 2002 and thus the party's co-founder Abdullah Gül became Prime Minister instead. With the help of the opposition CHP, Gül pushed forward constitutional reforms which nullified Erdoğan's political ban and allowed him to run for office.

Election[edit]

The by-election was held on 9 March 2003, four months after the 2002 general election. Four parties contested.

Irregularities in the 2002 general election[edit]

The local electoral authorities investigated irregularities in the district of Pervari in south-eastern Siirt. The alleged irregularities were the fact that three ballot boxes in a village named Doğan Köy were broken and thus could not be voted in, meaning 706 voters boycotted the election in protest. The number was significant since had the AKP won 122 more votes, it would have gained two MPs rather than just one in 2002.

On 2 December 2002, the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey declared the general election in Siirt null and void and ordered a repeat scheduled for March, citing the broken ballot boxes as having an influence on the results and the subsequent MP distribution.[3] Since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's political ban had been annulled, the AKP's first candidate Mervan Gül voluntarily stepped aside so that Erdoğan could take his place. Gül subsequently became the AKP Mayor of Siirt in the 2004 local elections.[4]

Candidates[edit]

The Workers' Party legally contested Erdoğan's candidacy, claiming that the by-elections were a repeat of the general elections and thus the party candidate lists could not be changed. This complaint was rejected by the Supreme Electoral Council.[5] The council further ruled that independent candidates which did not run in 2002 would not be able to declare their candidacy in the by-election.[6]

The party candidate lists were as follows.[7][8]

Justice and Development Party (AKP)
Rank Candidate
1st Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
2nd Öner Gülyeşil
3rd Öner Ergenç
 
Republican People's Party (CHP)
Rank Candidate
1st Ekrem Bilek
2nd Abdulhalim Çınar
3rd Abdurrahman Kaysi
 
Workers' Party (İP)
Rank Candidate
1st Zeki Karahan
2nd Yusuf Çelik
3rd Bayram Yurtçiçek
 
Communist Party of Turkey (TKP)
Rank Candidate
1st Muharrem Mırık
2nd Emine Serpil Renda
3rd Deniz Ünver

Results[edit]

Siirt by-election, 9 March 2003 [9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
AK Party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Öner Ergenç, Öner Gülyeşil 55,203 84.82 Increase67.26
CHP None elected 8,972 13.79 Increase4.86
İP None elected 500 0.77 Increase0.63
TKP None elected 404 0.62 Increase0.53
Turnout 73,624 61.77 Decrease12.38

Results by district[edit]

Aydınlar
Party Votes %
AKP 1,493 94.2
CHP 89 5.6
İP 3 0.2
TKP 0 0.0
Total 1,585* 100.0
 
Baykan
Party Votes %
AKP 6,728 88.0
CHP 789 10.3
İP 75 1.0
TKP 57 0.7
Total 7,649 100.0
 
Eruh
Party Votes %
AKP 3,294 63.7
CHP 1,809 35.0
İP 40 0.8
TKP 32 0.6
Total 5,175 100.0


Kurtalan
Party Votes %
AKP 10,862 85.8
CHP 1,596 12.6
İP 110 0.9
TKP 90 0.7
Total 12,658 100.0
 
Siirt city centre
Party Votes %
AKP 20,409 86.7
CHP 2,802 11.9
İP 171 0.7
TKP 156 0.7
Total 23,538 100.0
 
Pervari
Party Votes %
AKP 6,211 81.0
CHP 1,322 17.2
İP 81 1.1
TKP 54 0.7
Total 7,668 100.0
 
Şirvan
Party Votes %
AKP 6,206 91.1
CHP 565 8.3
İP 20 0.3
TKP 15 0.2
Total 6,806 100.0

* The number of valid votes recorded for Aydınlar is recorded as higher than the number of votes cast (1,460). The actual results in this district are therefore disputed.

Results obtained by Justice and Development Party (AKP) by district.
Results obtained by Republican People's Party (CHP) by district.


Results obtained by Workers' Party (İP) by district.
Results obtained by the Communist Party (TKP) by district.

Controversies[edit]

Critics of the AKP have often accused the government of deliberately forcing the Supreme Electoral Council to call a by-election so that Erdoğan could become Prime Minister. Despite allegations that ballot boxes were broken, the residents of Doğan Köy refused to vote until their village received the support it needed during periods of heavy snow, putting the reasons for their boycott in question. The AKP government began a heavy snow clearing operation in the village before the by-election.[10] The initial complaints that ballot boxes had been broken had been made by the AKP.[11] Controversies regarding the exact reasons why the AKP's initial candidate Mervan Gül stepped down, as well as the Supreme Electoral Court's decision to ban Fadıl Akgündüz from running again as an independent due to an arrest warrant from Interpol have also generated criticism.[12]

Electoral fraud[edit]

The election results in the district of Aydınlık show that the number of valid votes (1,585) is higher than the total number of votes cast (1,460), meaning that there was a negative number of invalid/blank votes. This has raised questions about electoral conduct during the election.[13]

References[edit]