Majority of invalid votes in Turkey's referendum from Kurdish provinces: Survey firm

Voting patterns went along party lines, a Turkish consultancy firm argued.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - A disproportionately high percentage of votes deemed invalid in last month's referendum held in Turkey were from Kurdish provinces, revealed a survey company on Monday.

In an 88-pages-long report on the political and demographic analyses of the referendum, which succesfully extended President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers with a 51.4 percent 'yes' majority vote, the polling company KONDA said nine out of ten provinces registering the highest number of invalid votes were Kurdish, where the 'no' campaign prevailed.

The 18-articles constitutional reform package approved on April 16 gave Erdogan sweeping executive powers such as the authority to dissolve parliament, declare a state of emergency, issue decrees, and form a cabinet as well as the capacity to appoint top judicial, bureaucratic, and military officials without a parliamentary vote of confidence.

The nationwide percentage of votes counted which were declared invalid was 1.8.

However, the figure ranged between 3 to 3.7 percent in Agri, Diyarbakir, Siirt, Mus, Hakkari, Van, Batman, Bingol and Sirnak.

 

[A map showing the amount of spoiled ballots by province. The darker brown, the higher percentage. Source: KONDA]

 

Only in Bingol and Mus did the government Justice and Development Party's (AKP) 'yes' campaign won with 72 and 50.6 percent of the vote respectively. The 'no' votes represented between 52 to 80 percent of the votes in the other provinces.

It was unclear whether Kurdish voters spoiled their ballots in protest or by mistake or whether state-appointed polling officers counted the ballots as such, said KONDA in its online-published report.

In contrast, spoiled votes were the lowest in districts where the 'yes' campaign won in Central Anatolia and the Black Sea regions.

Another visible feature that set the Kurdish region apart from the rest of Turkey was voter turnout.

Of the ten provinces with the lowest turnout, nine were majority Kurdish where Turkey's second largest opposition block, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), holds sway.

 

[A map showing the voter turnout by province. The lighter blue, the lower percentage. Source: KONDA]

In Agri, Van, Igdir, Kars, Bingol, Bitlis, Mus, Ardahan and Diyarbakir, the number of voters presenting themselves at polling stations ranged from 70 to 80 percent.

Shortly after initial results published on the evening of April 16, Erdogan and the Turkish media pointed out they had received an unexpected amount of 'yes' votes, which turned out to be 10 to 20 percent higher than the AKP's share of the vote in the last two general elections.

Erdogan himself commended the apparent Kurdish support for his project, saying he monitored regional progress the whole night.

But 93 percent of all HDP supporters and 60 percent of all Kurdish voters still said 'no,' the report stated.

According to KONDA, the fact that authorities imprisoned a dozen HDP lawmakers including its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekdag and seized over 80 HDP-allied municipalities affected the outcome.

Voting patterns went along party lines, the consultancy firm argued, suggesting a majority of voters did not necessarily cast their ballots on the proposed constitutional amendments.

Editing by G.H. Renaud