AKP, DEM Party contest local election results in multiple Kurdish provinces

In the aftermath of the March 31 local elections, the ruling AKP contested the victories of the pro-Kurdish DEM Party in multiple municipal elections, meanwhile DEM Party contested the cases where transferred law enforcement officials influenced outcomes.

Duvar English

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on April 2 contested several victories by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party in the March 31 local elections. 

Meanwhile, DEM Party filed complaints on cases where the transferred voters changed the outcomes at the ballot.

AKP contests DEM Party’s Diyarbakır victory

The AKP contested results in the Kurdish-majority southeastern Diyarbakır district, where DEM Party co-candidates Ayşe Serra Bucak Küçük and Doğan Hatun won by a landslide 64 percent of the votes. 

Küçük arrived at the provincial electoral board along with party members to inquire about the contestation process. 

Party’s local branch co-chair Abbas Şahin described the move as “deliberate and planned,” but reassured voters that the AKP would not be able to “hijack the public will.”  

Bucak urged DEM Party voters to “remain in high spirits,” as they would obtain their certificates of election in no time.

Police intervened to the crowd after their press statement, and surrounded party officials and elected mayors as they wanted to leave.

Police intervenes in DEM Party's statement regarding local election results.

The electoral board has until April 4 to decide on the matter, meanwhile the handover of the metropolitan municipality to DEM mayors are delayed. 

Municipal elections to be repeated in Hilvan district upon AKP contestations

Another contestation by the AKP in southeastern Urfa’s Hilvan district has resulted in a recount decision. DEM Party candidates won by a margin of 500 votes, and the AKP candidate closely followed with a 30.72% vote share, according to unofficial results. 

AKP contested 15 ballots in the district, citing errors in the official documents where vote counts are manually entered. 

The electoral board ruled to annul the results, and to hold new elections on June 2. 

The Bar Association in Urfa condemned the decision, saying it was a violation of Hilvan residents’ right to vote and stand for election. 

DEM Party contests results in eastern Kars province for suspected voter fraud

On the other hand, the DEM Party contested results in the eastern Kars province, citing the transfer of law enforcement personnel to the province on election day to vote for pro-government candidates.

According to unofficial results, the ultra-right wing government ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)’s candidate won the mayorship by 3,264 votes. 

DEM Party held that 3,842 military and police officers had been brought from other provinces to vote in Kars’s mayoral elections. 

The voter registries revealed that 199 of the 200 voters assigned to a ballot box in Kars were actually registered in western provinces of Turkey, according to reporting by the Mesopotamia Agency (MA). 

The officers voted in groups in three polling stations with some visibly armed, creating tension among civilian voters at the province. 

AKP victory in eastern Şırnak province questionable due to transferred voters

The eastern Şırnak was another province where the groups of military and police personnel brought in to vote caused a reaction among the public.

AKP’s candidate won by 2,500 votes in the small province. DEM Party stated the election was invalid, and it did not accept the outcome. 

The party organization held a press statement in front of the party building in central Şırnak regarding the election outcomes.

Local branch co-chair Nurcan Altürk said, “The government wanted to alter the province’s destiny with the transferred police and solider votes. We reject the outcome.”

She called the AKP candidate Mehmet Yarka a “thief,” who did not represent the public’s choice. Yarka was appointed by the government as the province’s trustee mayor following clashes in 2016.

As the crowd began marching to the Şırnak courthouse after the statement, police surrounded and intervened in the protest. They used plastic bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd, and detained dozens of citizens. 

Süleyman Salğucak, whose reaction to the police waiting in line to vote in Şırnak went viral on social media and brought attention to the issue, said the results were proof of the hijacking of public will in an interview with the MA. 

Salğucak was seen asking “Speak! Where are you from?” to the officers. 

Salğucak asks officers in line, "Speak! Where are you from?"

“They brought in thousands of military personnel from western provinces. I feel bad for (the officers) also, they were miserable, brought by force,” the citizen shared his observations. 

He said that he could not stay silent while witnessing the glaring violation of democracy.

He added, “The people of Şırnak voted for themselves. But the government wanted to prevent Kurdish politicians from sitting at those seats.”

The 61-year-old Şırnak resident felt deeply hurt when he saw busloads of law enforcement arriving to the province. 

“They came from all around Turkey, I saw the variety of license plates. They used public funds to hijack the public’s will,” he complained.