Is Something Rotten In Ankara’s Mayoral Election? A Very Preliminary Statistical Analysis

As the tweet button says on Swedish Assistant Professor Erik Meyersson’s piece, over 2000 tweets. Why? Because he waded in on the 1st of April to the widespread debate of ballot rigging by the ruling AKP in the 30 March local elections. No credible observer thought the AKP would ever lose these elections. For starters, all the preceding surveys put them well ahead of their nearest rivals, the CHP. That said, the same surveys put the race for mayor of İstanbul (Turkey’s largest city) & Ankara (the seat of power) as tight. Factor in notorious whistleblower tweep Fuat Avni claiming Erdoğan didn’t care about losing any city, except İstanbul, and there comes the motive for what Meyersson takes careful pains to analyse: ballot fraud in these two symbolic cities.

For context, Erdoğan claimed victory with about 70 percent of the votes counted shortly before midnight. In Ankara in particular, districts typically loyal to the CHP were some of the last to be registered. In other words, any claims of irregularities could only be found during the final moments of the count. With “victory” already called for incumbent Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, any legal challenge would then be left to the courts.

At the time of writing, the Ankara Election Board have rejected CHP’s call for a recount. Their own figures put them ahead, and their final appeal to the Supreme Election Board (or YSK) for a recount will be decided on 5 April.

Meanwhile, here’s Asst. Prof. Meyersson’s detailed overhaul of the count in those two cities. (Short read: there’s enough doubt to warrant a recount.):

Erik Meyersson

Note 1: This post may get updated as additional information on Ankara’s election comes in.

Note 2: This post has now been updated with data from Istanbul – see here)

Note 3: Added two graphs showing party-specific relationships between vote shares and invalid ballot shares. Hat tip for doing these kinds of graphs comes from Twitter user @merenbey.

Note 4: Added heterogenous results showing CHP being penalized by higher invalid shares of ballots much more in above-median pro-CHP districts than in below-median pro-CHP districts.

Having seen tweets on numerous alleged voting irregularities in Turkey and thanks to Twitter user @erenyanik I came across this CHP/STS dataset of voting data in the Greater Municipality of Ankara, one of the tightly contested (less than a percentage point in the vote share) mayor elections between Melih Gökçek and Mansur Yavaş. The dataset includes 12,230 ballot boxes across 1,682 voting locations in 25 districts in Ankara. I didn’t collect the data itself and…

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Zero The Money, Maximise The Bull

FOR FOREIGNERS TRYING TO KEEP UP with the continuous saga of the epic corruption scandal gripping Turkey since mid-December last year, the daddy of all wiretap leaks (after numerous predecessors) came this week, late in the evening on Mon. 24 Feb. The bombshell of hearing PM Erdoğan telling his son — across 5 phone calls & 24 hrs — to get rid of a cool 1 billion dollars hard cash on 17 Dec., the day 3 simultaneous probes broke wide open, sent social media into understandable overdrive. As midnight Monday (local time) approached, Erdoğan convened a damage limitation meeting with the national spy chief, the justice minister, & a deputy PM. Unlike previous wiretap leaks, which were either ignored or explained away, this time came a fierce denial from the Prime Minister’s office, as reported by Reuters:

The recordings, which were released via the Internet this evening, accompanied with the allegation that they were a telephone conversation between our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son, are completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage. Those who created this dirty conspiracy targeting the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey will be brought to account within the law.

Meanwhile, the two largest opposition parties, the CHP & MHP, also held emergency sessions through the night, after which the CHP leader, calling the recordings genuine, demanded Erdoğan “take a helicopter” & “flee abroad” or resign. All very stern stuff indeed, but to understand exactly why, here’s a concise summary of the five recordings from the Dragoman Review. For context, the first telephone call takes place at 8:02 A.M. on 17 Dec., after dawn police raids had hauled in some 49 people, including three AKP ministers’ sons, the CEO of state-owned Halkbank, & a well-known property tycoon: Continue reading “Zero The Money, Maximise The Bull”