Tactics allegedly used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies in the run-up to Sunday’s elections to provoke and manipulate voters have sparked concerns among their opponents, who urge the public to remain vigilant against all types of perception operations.
Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu on Wednesday stated in an interview with Voice of America’s (VOA) Turkish service that he was concerned about the escalation of violence in Turkey in the days leading up to the election.
Karamollaoğlu, the leader of one of the six parties in the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Nation Alliance, is anticipated to serve as vice president in the event Kılıçdaroğlu, CHP chairman and presidential candidate of the alliance, is elected to the top state post in the May 14 election.
He referred to a recent attack targeting an opposition politician that deepened already existing concerns about whether Turkey will be able to hold a free and fair election.
On May 8, protesters pelted İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s campaign bus with stones while he was touring Turkey’s conservative province of Erzurum.
“There is no power that can stand against the will of the people when it is expressed. If you try to seize power with small manipulations … you can’t govern that country. Because … you would have to adopt even harsher attitudes toward the people. This would destroy you,” Karamollaoğlu said.
The SP leader identified interior minister and the AKP’s İstanbul parliamentary candidate Süleyman Soylu as the “most fundamental source of concern” for election day, urging citizens not to give in to provocations and to act with care.
“It would have been appropriate for Mr. Soylu to resign from the Interior Ministry. He is both a candidate and the interior minister and is responsible for ensuring the security [of the elections]. How can I trust him?” Karamollaoğlu said.
In a speech in late April, Soylu said the elections were similar to an abortive putsch that took place on July 15, 2016 and described it as “another coup attempt.” The speech sparked outrage among journalists and opposition members, who said he was trying to incite fear among the public.
Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Thursday released a written statement in which they called on the public to be “vigilant” against all kinds of perception operations and manipulation by the AKP government and pro-government media both before and on the day of the critical elections.
“We urge our people to follow the statements made by our Coordination Center and rely on these statements in the face of [potential] manipulated results announced by the government and its media,” the party said.
The HDP will run in the parliamentary elections under the banner of the Green Left Party (YSP) in a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.
The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu last week called on his supporters not to go out to celebrate his possible victory on the night of the May 14 elections, saying there could be some disturbances, some people could be provoked and armed groups could be around.
Tuncay Özkan, an advisor to Kılıçdaroğlu, also told the press following an election rally in Bolu earlier this week that the ruling AKP would distribute fake posters and brochures with the CHP logo that portray the party as being associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has been leading a violent insurgency in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast for nearly four decades.