CHP head Özel criticizes Turkish electoral authority for dismissing Hatay objection 

The head of Turkey’s main opposition CHP, Özgür Özel, has criticized the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) for denying the party’s final objection and election fraud claims against the ruling AKP’s mayoral victory in southeastern Hatay province. 

Duvar English

Özgür Özel, chair of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on April 17 commented on the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK)’s dismissal of their final objection to the metropolitan municipality election results in the quake-torn Hatay province.  

Özel held that the YSK denied their objection by direct orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while he answered questions from the ANKA News Agency. 

“The YSK dismissed our objection without even opening the document's cover,” he said, reminding of the 2019 mayoral elections in Istanbul that were repeated despite any concrete evidence of voting irregularities.

“Dismissing our admissible application without due consideration is unlawful,” Özel continued. 

He held the decision was political, made with a political order. 

According to Özel, Erdoğan’s press statement before the YSK convened to vote on CHP’s application was proof of his influence on the final decision. 

“Erdoğan appeared on camera and said that the YSK has ‘put an end to the Hatay discussion. They had not even convened at that point, how could he know they have put an end to it?” questioned Özel.  

The CHP had claimed that more than 3,000 votes were cast in the name of dead citizens and provided proof in their application. 

Özel criticized the YSK for not taking the proof into account, saying, “The truth would be immediately obvious if they had examined our documents.”

The CHP chair chastized Erdoğan for interfering with the objection process and ignoring the public will. 

He continued, “Erdoğan shows that he did not understand the public’s message, despite what he said in the immediate aftermath of the local elections.”

The CHP ran a controversial campaign in the quake-stricken Hatay province and lost to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Mehmet Öntürk with 3,300 votes.

The CHP nominated incumbent mayor Savaş despite Hatay constituents’ dissatisfaction with his performance in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

Residents found him responsible for the problematic construction licensing in the province. 

Although the party said it would take the quake-stricken public’s grievances about Savaş, it refused to field an alternative candidate saying it would “risk” losing control of the province. 

Savaş's unpopularity was reflected on the ballot as his vote share shrunk by 11 percent from the local elections of 2019. 

Hatay was struck the hardest in the earthquakes of 2023. Some 25,000 people died and over 30,000 were injured.