“This result is not legitimate”

MPs Garo Paylan and Selina Doğan assessed the referendum result and the decision of Supreme Board of Election of Turkey.

Referendum had been occupying Turkey's agenda for months and finally it was held on last Sunday under the state of emergency. People voted constitutional amendments that will change the system of government and the yes camp won with 51,4% of the votes. However, SBE's last minute decision to deem unstamped ballots and envelops valid gave way to debates. It is claimed that there are around 2,5 million unstamped ballots, some ballots stamped with “no” were found in the garbage and election safety was violated in Eastern provinces. CHP and HDP appealed for annulment of referendum and HDP also filed criminal complaint against the head and members of the SBE. SBE refused the appeal for annulment. On the other hand, people have been protesting the irregularities in referendum in various cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Eskişehir and Antalya. While some people had been detained during these protests, 38 people who conducted no campaign were detained on April 19.

CHP Istanbul MP Selina Doğan and HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan assessed the alleged irregularities in referendum and the future of politics in Turkey. Both Paylan and Doğan think that the referendum result is a success for the no camp and voters supported the social peace. 

Selina Doğan: “SBE transferred its own responsibility to citizens”

“Unstamped ballots had been reported starting from morning. It was reported that some voters realized that the ballots were unstamped. Around 5 pm, SBE sent a notice that is unacceptable for us. In some places, number of ballots and voters didn't match. There had been reports informing that some people voted more than once. It is obvious that the law was violated in many places, when it was understood that no camp will win. Also, I want to note that our member in the SBE objected against the decision, though the SBE claims that it was unanimous. SBE manipulated the voting. We will take any legal action possible, basing our claims on the report of OSCE.

“The real problem is the unstamped ballots. Preparing the ballots is SBE's duty. The decision says that unstamped ballots are valid unless proven fraudulent. This means that they made the citizens responsible for proving. SBE transferred its own responsibility to citizens. Our lawyers are working on the case, but individual application to Constitutional Court might be possible, since there is violation of right to vote and the principle of rule of law.”

“Great success”

Doğan also talked about the meaning of the result for CHP: “This result is a great success given the pressure, state of emergency, violations and injustices. Of course we don't say that it is the success of our party. From the beginning, we said that this is about the entire country. The half of the country says that it wants to live together with the other half. From now on, we will struggle to achieve this.”

“Garo Paylan: this is a Pyrrhic victory”

Largest number of instances of fraud and irregularity was reported from Kurdish cities. HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan noted that the referendum was held under the conditions of “martial law” in the region and around 500,000 votes were lost. 

“Turnout in the region decreased due to pressure”

“In fact, we didn't want this referendum to be held under state of emergency. The ruling party took advantage of pressure and the conditions of state of emergency. However, there were conditions of martial law in Kurdish cities. Especially in rural areas, people were subjected to major pressure and threats. Turnout in the region decreased because of this. This decrease is also caused by the people who were forced to migrate. We think that around 500,000 votes were lost in this way.”

Stating that HDP couldn't have conducted a campaign freely, Paylan said: “If our co-chairs were free, if the media was free to cover our campaign, if we were able to reach our people, no camp would have won with a great margin. This result is not legitimate. This constitutional change won't be accepted, I think.”

“Polarizing discourse is still at play”

Assessing the meaning of the result for HDP, Paylan said that the result is a great success despite all pressure. He also stated that pressure will continue and made a call to other parties: 

“Erdoğan and AKP won with polarization. There is a Pyrrhic victory; Erdoğan's way destroyed the social peace. And he showed that this wasn't only for referendum campaign; he still uses a polarizing discourse. He doesn't hesitate to use such a discourse, since this is what brings him victory. This means that pressure will continue. Unless an initiative within Turkish society objects against this, Erdoğan will continue in this direction. We are making this call to all parties and all peoples. This will eventually come to an end and HDP will continue to struggle to end it. Given all the pressure, this result is a success. We lost, but I feel proud for what we have achieved despite all the pressure. Not only Kurds, but also conservatives, social democrats and all parties have an obligation to lead Turkey to democracy. We will try to maintain this struggle all together.”


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