Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) on May 26 banned politicians from making propaganda by text messages.
The move came after main opposition Nation Alliance's presidential candidate and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu sent a text message to citizens regarding credit card debts.
In a May 25-dated text message, Kılıçdaroğlu said “As soon as I assume power, the treasury of our state will take over your credit card debts from the banks due to the economic depression caused by Erdoğan. The interest on your credit card debt will be completely erased and the principal will be paid in 36 monthly installments. Thus, hundreds of thousands of our citizens will be saved from being crushed under this burden. Remember, the 28 May election is a referendum to get rid of heavy debts or get stuck in debt in the country!”
After his message, the BTK sent a warning to the GSM operators in Turkey, reminding them the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) decision that “it is forbidden to make propaganda by sending video, audio or written messages to citizens' e-mail addresses, mobile or fixed phones.”
“If it is determined that your company has sent an SMS or made a call in violation of the relevant legislation, I kindly inform you that all necessary actions will be taken by our institution, including the cancellation of the authorization, within the framework of the relevant legislation,” the BTK told GSM operators in the warning, the daily BirGün reported on May 26.
However, the BTK did not take any action while ministers, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, sent several text messages to citizens during the election campaign period.
Journalist İsmail Arı from BirGün showed that Transportation Minister Adil Karaismaoğlu sent citizens a text message even after the BTK's warning.
Kılıçdaroğlu'nun SMS göndermsini dahi engellediler. Bakın Kılıçdaroğlu'nun SMS atmasını yasaklayan BTK, Ulaştırma ve Altyapı Bakanlığı'na bağlı.— İsmail Arı (@ismailari_) May 26, 2023
Ulaştırma Bakanı Karaismailoğlu ise SMS ve videolar göndermeye devam ediyor. 1 saat önce gönderildi bu 👇 https://t.co/SYiJG3DfGI pic.twitter.com/UB9hdTzAp9
After the move, Kılıçdaroğlu shared a video on his Twitter account and said he is in a “total blackout.”
“Constant slanders, lies, conspiracies, oddities at the ballot boxes, efforts to ban election observers, lie campaigns, montage videos, as well as bans on our mobile screens. Now I can't send text messages. Telecommunications companies prevent me from texting to (even) journalists,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“I'm asking Erdoğan, should I not enter the election? Is this what you want? This man is a coward. The country is tearing apart because of a coward. The election becomes impossible. What do you want from this country? Coward man!,” he added.
Tümüyle karartma altındayım. pic.twitter.com/1ztB6lv44f— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) May 26, 2023
In the May 14 presidential elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially received 49.52% of the votes, whereas Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received 44.88%. This is the first time Turkey will experience a run-off election on May 28.