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…

View original post 1,529 more words

Killer On The Loose

Berkin Elvan
On 16 June last year, the day after the 3-week-old and peaceful occupation of Gezi Park was forcibly ended in a hail of teargas, 14-year-old Berkin Elvan stepped out in his nearby neighbourhood to buy a loaf of bread and never came home. Instead, after being shot in the head with a teargas canister, he spent the next 9 months in a coma, turned 15 in January, and died Tuesday, 11 March. The tragic news of the belated victim of the 2013 protests — internationally condemned for excessive use of teargas by the police — brought on nationwide mourning and further protests. Over two days and across 53 provinces, some two million people marched in anger and grief. Likewise, similar outpourings took place place across the world in demonstrations from London to Washington. On 12 March, the funeral procession looked like this as it passed through Şişli in İstanbul:

Berkin Elvan funeral procession in Şişli, İstanbul on 12 March, 2014
On the day before, when Berkin passed away, the elected 60-year-old Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stayed silent. True to form, it was no different from his reaction to the other well-documented Gezi fatalities. A stark contrast, by the way, to the glossy tears he shed live on TV for Esma, an Egyptian teenage girl killed during Morsi’s military-backed ouster. He said nothing the day Berkin Elvan died, but he passed comment the next day, the day of the funeral. It went like this: Continue reading “Killer On The Loose”

The Sick Man Of Turkey

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB, or “Türk Tabipleri Birliği” in Turkish) released a statement Saturday passing considerable judgment on PM’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial reactions over the past year. For those familiar with events since the start of the nationwide anti-government protests of 2013, the 60-year-old independent trade union — covering 80% of Turkey’s medical professionals, & recognized by the World Medical Assoc. — just questioned the mental health of the Turkish prime minister.

The full English translation of their 15 March press release reads as follows: Continue reading “The Sick Man Of Turkey”

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”

Hacktivists Slaughter Agriculture Ministry Site

ANOTHER HIT & RUN HACK took place earlier today, from Turkey’s own “Anonymous” hacktivists, RedHack. Gaining in notoriety for their many attacks on state websites & even reportedly causing a nationwide shutdown of the ‘net, this time the group fired its politically loaded message at the Ministry of Agriculture — more specifically its Strategic Development Directorate.

The remains of the ministry’s website opened with the above pic & message “hackers on behalf of the villager”, with the group criticising a government quota system that favours imports of American & European produce over support for the Turkish farmer.

The culturally & politically packed statement, laced with their hallmark wit, took a range of pot shots: from poking fun at the Agriculture Minister, Mehmet Mehdi Eker; to the Turkish prime minister’s 2007 blunt response to a desperate farmer railing against government policies; to the recent “poisoned milk” scandal, whereby some 4,000 school pupils were, it was reported, hospitalised:

Let’s get to the point: It’s not enough for you to get the famers into trouble and say “take your mother and leave”, now it’s the children’s turn. You are distibuting free milk at schools. That’s good but give children real milk, not milk powder. You are playing the demagogue to people who criticise you, by saying we are against milk. Actually, we are not against milk, but against poisoned milk. Last month, we hackedall of the distribution companies, and we see that you gave all the milk tenders to “cemaat” members [read: a closed Islamic community; here alluding to the followers of Fethullah Gülen] … What is the relationship bewteen you & those companies? If you were brave enough, you would explain it.

Look my Mehdi: If you and your predcessors hadn’t ruined agriculture and husbandry by supporting the quotas and policies of imperialist economies, today every child would be able to drink [safe] milk. Leave the country to the workers. Don’t worry about it. As you see in the picture, our children can make their own cake :) Take it easy Captain Mehdi.

The hacked page closed with a dedication to Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, “who devoted himself to the workers’ struggle and was tortured to death on 18 May, 1973.”

WikiLeaks / Stratfor on Gülen, Doğan Media Group, & AKP

Concerning AKP – Gulen relationship: Gulen officially supports a political party for the first time. However, Erdogan doesn’t like him (or hates him). The entire relationship is based on mutual interests. Gulen needs a powerful political party, AKP needs broad political support. They had a major dispute over Ergenekon. At a certain point, Erdogan thought that things might get screwed and wanted to back down a bit. But Gulen insisted on deepening the probe. In the past, the entire rhetoric of the comm. was based on “tolerance”. But now, they don’t show mercy for those who don’t support them. They show target and destroy. Community acts more aggressively. Continue reading “WikiLeaks / Stratfor on Gülen, Doğan Media Group, & AKP”