Turkey’s authorities imposed a ban on access to an online game created by volunteers to mock the election authority for failing to give a mandate to Ekrem Imamoglu, whose win in Istanbul in the local elections last month is still being challenged by the ruling party.
The online game shows an animation of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s
(CHP) Istanbul mayor-elect Ekrem Imamoglu, who is 13,000 votes ahead of the ruling
AKP’s Istanbul candidate Binali Yildirim according to the unofficial results, trying to pick
up mandates for the 39 districts of Istanbul.
The vote margin between the two Istanbul candidates is seen decreasing on the right
corner of the screen as the game proceeds, and when the animation of Imamoglu collects
all the mandates, the Izmir March is heard playing.
The game is designed to mock the entire post-election process marred by a major dispute over who won the mayoral race and unending vore recount in many districts of the city.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party appealed the vote and demanded a full recount
of all votes in Istanbul. The Supreme Election Council (YSK) rejected that demand, ruling
for partial recounts of invalid votes in some districts.
The dispute has yet to recede. The public’s patience has already worn thin over the unresolved saga.
The game produced by Imamoglu’s fans several days ago became an internet hit. It also
contains some ideological flavors exposing the difference between the Islamist-rooted AKP’s worldview and the secular CHP constituency.
Izmir March, a song that praises the victory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the War of
Independence, is the unofficial anthem of Izmir, a stronghold of main opposition CHP.
The game was released after AKP’s appeals that slowed down the process of giving
Istanbul mandate to Imamoglu by the election authority, which critics ascribe to Erdogan’s unwillingness to lose a major income source.
Access to the game from the parliament’s network was banned in 24 hours after it was
released, according to a report on Arti Gercek news portal on Thursday.
The same day, a pro-government newspaper Takvim published photos of the Supreme
Electoral Council (YSK) members on its front page with two captions that read “here’s
the council” and “all eyes are on the 11 YSK members [for the election results].”
Ismail Saymaz, a reporter for the Hurriyet daily, has said that Takvim portrays the YSK
members as targets.
“By publishing photos of each YSK member, Takvim daily points them as targets. If
[critical] Sozcu daily did this instead, they would be investigated for pointing targets on
behalf of terrorist organizations,” Saymaz tweeted on his account.
The YSK has been heavily criticized by the opposition for being open to political
meddling by the ruling AKP.
Faik Oztrak, the main opposition CHP spokesman, has said that the YSK’s move to
postpone its decision on Istanbul’s Buyukcekmece district elections raised eyebrows.
“The YSK should not let them [AKP] steal the victory in the Istanbul race, which they
have already lost, through an operation to discredit the election results,” Oztrak
underlined on Friday, calling the election board to fulfill its responsibility.
“YSK’s decision [for Istanbul] will tell whether Turkey is a democratic country where
those who come to office by an election leave the office also through an election, or a
totalitarian regime where those who come to power would not leave their posts,” he
Erdogan has previously labeled the results of the Istanbul race as work of “organized
crime.” His statement was followed by AKP deputy chairman Ihsan Yavuz’s announcement of a re-run demand for the elections.
The YSK’s move to postpone its decision on the Buyukcekmece district was seen by critics as a bid to provide the AKP the time it needs to come up with evidence to back up its re-run demand.
A big chunk of the Istanbul Police Department was employed to scan the district lately,
amid widespread rumors of preparations of proceeding minutes to be used by the AKP
as evidence to support/prove its voter fraud claims.
The election saw mutual accusations between the AKP and CHP over gerrymandering in
districts. Specifically, the AKP accused the main opposition party of changing the locations of voters in a bid to steer the election outcome, a charge the CHP used against
the ruling party as well.
The controversy over Istanbul seems far from over, given the YSK’s latest decision to
postpone its final ruling over the outcome amid mounting public criticism and exasperation.
The European Union has called on the government to respect the election results and warned against any change through direct political interference.