Various electoral violations, detentions and police attacks marred voting day in Kurdish cities across Turkey on Sunday, with lower voter turnout than expected and fewer votes for the pro-Kurdish HDP party than in June.
Reports of vote rigging surfaced after the results came out earlier that day that saw the neoliberal AK Party win 49.6 percent. They included included changing bags of ballots in Antep, signing blank vote counts prematurely and not signing completed vote counts in various provinces, paying voters for the AK Party in Adiyaman and counting more votes than were registered in AK Party-majority cities.
Volunteers all over Turkey guarded polling stations against theft or fraud, but Kurdish media still reported suspicious activity. Multiple polling stations in Kurdish areas had power cuts, and many had unmarked vehicles parked outside, which the Governor's Office in Istanbul claimed were civilian cars.
Pictures of unmarked vehicles
In June, Turkey election result wasn't declared on state news until 9:36 pm. This time the vote count's been almost 2 hrs quicker than that. — Isobel Finkel (@is_fink)
November 1, 2015
Armored vehicles and police barricades blocked off roads, and masked special operation teams stood in front of polling stations, turning away and threatening journalists. Clashes between AK Party supporters and HDP supporters were common, many ending with the detention of HDP provincial leaders, voters, poll officials and observers. Election observers from Syria, Greece, Britain and the European Union were denied access to polling stations and beaten or detained, agencies reported.
"The incidents taking place here do not comply with any democracy criteria," one observer deployed by the European Parliament told Dicle Haber. "Nowhere else in the world have I witnessed such a militarist atmosphere. The scene is really unbelievable."
Besides attacking journalists and destroying their equipment, police also aimed tear gas and pepper spray at civilians. In Cizre, the target was a van carrying mostly HDP votes; in Van, voters were told to evacuate a polling station early; in Kocaeli, people helping an 80-year-old woman vote; and in Van, Mardin, Diyarbakir and Muşall HDP—majority cities—voters protesting the elections. An explosion in Mardin caused significant damage, while ongoing clashes with the police in Diyarbakir injured a little boy. Gunshots were also reportedly heard, according to Kurdish and local media.
DİHA'nın geçtiği seçim fotosu... pic.twitter.com/FCcrnICXVQ — Amed Dicle (@AmedDiicleT)
November 1, 2015
Kurdish youth angered by poll results erect fire barricade, shout slogans in Diyarbakir center, calling for revenge. pic.twitter.com/jGvAgG9S1w — Ayla Albayrak (@aylushka_a)
November 1, 2015
The HDP, whose success in the June 5 elections ended the single-party rule of the AK Party, stated that irregularities and violations significantly increased since the last elections. While it won 3 percentage points less than in June, according to the latest official count, it still reached the 10 percent threshold to have seats in parliament. Though 80 percent of the votes have been counted, Erdogan's AK Party has already won a high enough majority to avoid creating a coalition government.
HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdağ said that "there wasn't a fair or equal election" but that the most difficult part was the death of 258 civilians, including 33 children and largely HDP activists, in the course of the election period.