Saturday, July 21, 2007

Where is the DTP candidate?

Five years ago, the pro-Kurdish party, which was called DEHAP, and now is DTP, failed to enter parliament, in spite of collecting more than 6 percent of the national vote, because of the 10 percent threshold. Once bitten, twice shy, so this time, to cirvumvent the threshold, DTP doesn't run as a party for the elections, but there are DTP representatives who run as independents.

But only a few months ago, when early elections were called, the rules changed. Here is how Turkish Daily News explains it:

As regards independent candidates, on the other hand, no one can defend that either the ruling AKP or the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) performed in any manner compatible with democracy when they legislated in haste to include names on independents in the joint ballot sheets rather than letting them run on separate voting papers. They did that hoping that the practice will lead to confusion among the mostly illiterate voters of the southeast "where many pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) people are running as independent candidates" and thus the number of "unwanted DTP people" in Parliament would be limited.

It's always a pleasure to learn tricks and counter-tricks in Turkey. Even funnier than in Naples. Even in this case, Kurds didn't stop to complain, and acted. As says the Kurdish blog Rastî,

DTP has been working to overcome the obstacles placed in its path by those in power who keep Kurds out of the political process. Specifically, it's been educating its voter base on the new ballots and how to find DTP candidates on the ballots. This is no small task given that Amed"s (Diyarbakır) ballot is some two meters long. DTP has hit upon the idea of creating and passing out templates for the ballots, that have a hole in the place where the independent DTP candidate's name is located. Another plan is to use pieces of string to measure the distance to the independent's name. Failing these helps, DTP is encouraging voters to take underage children with them, who can read the ballot for them, a rule that is applied throughout Turkey.
More details in Turkish Daily News:
In an effort to overcome the obstacles in front of it, the DTP has launched a regional program to ensure its electorate vote for them.

The first plan is to divide provinces into smaller regions in order to ensure that all DTP candidates receive an equal share of the vote by assigning specific regions to individual candidates.

While preparing their election placards, the DTP placed the photos of each candidate with a list of regions underneath in an effort to ensure all votes don't go to a single popular candidate.

In Diyarbakır, four candidates were assigned regions according to the support the party received in the 2002 elections. (...)

Meanwhile in Van, the local DTP bureau has turned its election campaign into a literacy drive in an effort to ensure that its voters, some of whom don't read Turkish, find the independent DTP candidate on the ballot box.

Illiterate women are taught how to find the name of the candidate on the paper. (...)

In Van alone, 150 DTP members are assigned the duty of teaching supporters how to locate the candidate's name on the paper.

The only independent candidate supported by the DTP, Fatma Kurtulan from Van, said other parties had their logo on the ballot paper. "We are having some problems about some women not knowing how to read and write. We need to visit each woman in their home and teach them how to find our name."

And here is how it works in practice:

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