Jun 12 2018

Turkish vote reduced to Erdoğan referendum

Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections have morphed into a referendum on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan because his opponents are being largely ignored by broadcasters less than two weeks before the vote, the Wall Street Journal said.

Lack of TV coverage for Erdoğan’s four challengers – a fifth remains in jail on terrorism charges – is a severe handicap, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan, when television audiences generally peak, David Gauthier-Villars wrote.

Erdoğan called the June 24 elections during emergency rule, in place since a failed coup in July 2016, conducting purges in the media, military and judiciary. That means his opponents are straining to reach voters’ ears, Gauthier-Villars said.

Polls show Erdoğan will need a second round of voting on July 8 to win a second term. He is expected to come up against Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Ince says he is rarely invited to talk shows and his campaign is struggling to arrange venues for rallies or to buy advertising billboards.

“We have doubt that the elections will be free and fair,” Ince said in an interview, according to the WSJ. “Because Mr. Erdoğan will use everything the state has, the planes, the money. He will use everything.”