High number of invalid votes in naysayer regions ‘inexplicable,’ says pollster

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Supporters of the "No" gesture and chant slogans as they hold placards reading "No" during a march at the Kadikoy district in Istanbul on April 17, 2017 to protest following the results in a nationwide referendum that will determine Turkey's future destiny. Turkey's opposition on April 17, 2017 called for the annulment of a referendum giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers, as international monitors voiced concern over the campaign and vote count. The referendum was seen as crucial not just for shaping the political system of Turkey but also the future strategic direction of a nation that has been a NATO member since 1952 and an EU hopeful for half a century. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

A report analyzing the results of an April 16 referendum released by the KONDA polling company on Monday underlines that the majority of invalid votes were cast in the eastern regions of Turkey, where the rate of voters against the constitutional amendments in the poll was high, the t24 news website reported.

According to the analysis, the rate of invalid votes was high in the mainly Kurdish-populated areas where “no” voters constituted the majority of the electorate, while a low number of invalid votes was observed in western provinces.

“Although it is difficult to know how much of the high rate of invalid votes in those regions was result of intentional protest or due to the initiative of polling board members, it is clear that those are the provinces where ballot boxes should be especially focused on,” said the KONDA assessment.

“It can also be seen in all the districts of a certain part of the Central Anatolia and Black Sea regions that the invalid votes are well below the countrywide average. In those districts, ‘yes’ votes were in the majority, and this constitutes an unexplainable situation for us,” KONDA said in the analysis.

After 11 days of debate, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) last Friday announced the official results of an April 16 referendum on a constitutional reform package that introduces an executive presidency in Turkey, saying that 51.41 percent of the electorate voted yes, while 48.59 percent voted no.

YSK President Sadi Güven said 25,157,463 people voted in favor, 23,779,141 voted against while 862,215 votes were invalid.

The turnout rate in the referendum was lower, particularly in districts where trustees have been appointed by the government to replace democratically elected mayors, while it was higher in western regions, especially in areas where there was an overwhelming majority of votes against.

‘Yes’ votes 10 points less than joint AKP, MHP vote

The KONDA analysis shows that the 51.4 percent public support for a constitutional reform package was 10 points less than the joint vote received by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the general elections of Nov.1 .
The reform package, which introduced an executive presidency in Turkey, was backed by the AKP and the MHP.

“In areas where there is strong support for the AKP, an overwhelming number of ‘yes’ votes emerged from the ballot box. Although it is difficult to measure the MHP’s contribution to the ‘yes’ vote, it looks that it was less than expected. The ‘yes’ vote is 10 points less than the total vote received by the MHP and the AKP in the Nov. 1 elections,” KONDA said in its analysis.

According to the analysis, almost all “yes” votes were cast by AKP voters, while the contribution of MHP supporters to the vote in favor was around 5 percent.
“Although most naysayers look like Republican People’s Party [CHP] supporters, it seems at least 60 percent of MHP voters and 93 percent of Peoples’ Democratic Party [HDP] voters said ‘no’ in the referendum,” KONDA said.

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