Some 60 million Turks will cast their votes on May 14 to elect their 13th president and the 600-seat parliament in an election that many describe as the most critical one not only for Türkiye but also for the wider region.
“As of now, all measures for healthy and secure elections have been taken by the Supreme Election Board [YSK] and its election committees in the provinces and districts,” YSK head Ahmet Yener told the journalists on May 12.
“May 14 is a fest for democracy. We suggest all our citizens eligible to vote to go and cast their votes in a safe way,” Yener said. “I hope we will announce the inconclusive results on the same day as in the previous polls.”
According to the YSK’s figures, 60,697,843 people in Türkiye are eligible to vote, of which 4.9 million are first-time voters. Some 1.8 million Turks have already voted abroad. Their votes will be counted with the rest of the votes after the polls will be closed late afternoon on May 14.
The electors will vote twice on Sunday’s polls. They will elect the 13th president of Türkiye and the 600-seat parliament. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will try to keep his office against two opposition contenders, Nation Alliance’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Ata Alliance’s Sinan Oğan.
To be elected in the first round, one of the contenders has to secure at least 50 percent plus one vote. Otherwise, Turks will vote once again on May 28 to elect one of the two candidates that received the most votes in the first round.
Erdoğan was elected as the president in 2018 following the constitutional amendment that replaced the parliamentary system with the executive-presidential model. His main rival is Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the joint candidate of the six-party Nation Alliance. He will also be endorsed by the Labor and Freedom Alliance, comprising the Green Left Party (YSP) and the Workers’ Party of Türkiye (TİP), which did not nominate its own candidate for the president.
Alliances to race for parliament
Equally important will be the votes for the parliament. The People’s Alliance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will seek to protect the majority they have in the current parliament, while the Nation Alliance is exerting efforts to gain a strong majority to be able to reverse the executive-presidential system into what they call the strengthened parliamentary model.
Alliances need at least 300 seats for the majority in the parliament, while 400 seats are needed to amend the constitution.
All measures taken for polls
Yener told the media on May 12 that all the measures have been taken for the polls. “All measures in terms of [reinforcing] technological infrastructure against power cuts and cyber-attacks on the election day were taken, and necessary test tests were carried out,” he said.
He informed that all the parties have representatives in the balloting committees along with the YSK officials and all the records concerning the voting process are shared by them. These records are also shared with the headquarters of the political parties, he recalled.
The YSK head provided information about the voting in 11 provinces that were severely hit by the February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people. Polling stations have been created near the schools and other areas, Yener said, adding, “As of now, we have 8.9 million voters registered in the quake-hit region. Everything is ready. All measures have been taken so that they can vote safely.”
Opposition discusses election safety
In the meantime, the leaders of the six opposition parties of the Nation Alliance had a meeting late on May 11 to discuss the measures taken for election safety. The leaders met at the CHP’s headquarters.
A brief statement informed that around half a million officials from six political parties will serve on election day to oversee the voting and counting process.
Over 2,500 volunteer lawyers to work on May 14
In the meantime, more than 2,500 lawyers will voluntarily work for election security on May 14, the Istanbul Bar Association announced on May 11.
The association previously provided election security training to more than 2,500 lawyers who applied to be on the field on election day.
Volunteer lawyers will respond to the questions of citizens and polling officials on election day and will meet legal support needs.
The lawyers will wear a badge that reads “Istanbul Bar Association Attorney in Charge.”
The association will also establish a crisis desk on May 14 at 6 a.m.
Consisting of lawyers who are experts in election law, the team will provide legal support by answering phone calls from citizens and attorneys in the field.
The Istanbul Bar Association’s Human Rights Center and Lawyer Rights Center will also provide support to those who encounter legal problems.