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Undemocratic Obstacles in the Referendum

Although Turkey’s April 16th constitutional referendum is still just under two weeks away, Turkish citizens living in the Untied States began casting their ballots at Turkish consulates and embassies this weekend. Though there have not thus far been reports of issues with voting in the U.S., controversy has already erupted in Germany over election fraud.

According to a story published in Cumhuriyet, election monitors from the main opposition party—the CHP—noticed a voter named Nizamettin Uyanık cast two ballots in two separate boxes within one minute. The Supreme Election Council was immediately notified, which then halted the voting process in order to investigate. The council recommenced voting two hours later, announcing that since the ballot had already been cast they could not resolve the issue, but would pursue legal action against the responsible parties.

Meanwhile in Düsseldorf, another CHP member noticed that a person whose name had not originally appeared on the list of international voters had later been added to the list by an election official. The person fraudulently added to the list was then able to cast a ballot.

Officials have noted that the Düsseldorf voter had voted after having been fraudulently added to the list, and that Nizamettin Uyanık had admitted to voting “Yes” in the referendum. A story in Hürriyet claims that the issue of the fraudulent ballot from Frankfurt will be resolved on April 16th by opening the ballot box, withdrawing a random ballot, and burning said ballot without determining whether it was a “Yes” or “No” vote.

 Meanwhile as election campaigns continue in Turkey, the opposition parties continue to encounter challenges to their “No” campaign. Cumhuriyetreported that Aykut Erdoğdu, CHP Member of Parliament, tweeted pictures depicting “No” banners that had been torn down in Istanbul’s Kağıthane district in the middle of the night.

Elif Ilgaz reported in BirGün that CHP has recorded 143 instances of prohibition, pressure, or threats to the “No” campaign. Furthermore, the “Yes” campaign is given ten times the airtime that the “No” campaign receives. Perhaps the biggest hindrance to the “No” campaign is the fact that the leadership cadres of another opposition party, the HDP, remain in jail; 13 members of parliament, 27 city and 84 district co-presidents, over 750 managers, and 85 municipal mayors are under arrest.

 Oya Aktaş

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