Ince has withdrawn from the run, but what of the votes cast for him from abroad?

Muharrem Ince’s withdrawal from the run for president three days before the elections has prompted questions regarding the validity of the votes already cast for him. Experts evaluate the consequences of Ince’s withdrawal.

The announcement of Homeland Party Chairman Muharrem Ince’s withdrawal from candidacy three days before the election has prompted questions about the fate of the votes cast for Ince from abroad, as well as questions regarding whether the ballots will be reprinted on election day. Experts evaluated the situation for Arti Gercek.


Lawyers and representatives of the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the Supreme Election Council (YSK), Mehmet Hamdi Yakupoglu, and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) representative Mehmet Rustu Tiryaki, first emphasized the necessity of the withdrawing candidate to submit a petition.

Tiryaki stated, "There is no official consequence of announcing the withdrawal on television. If a candidate says, 'I am withdrawing from the race,' he or she or their representative (lawyer) before the YSK, must submit a petition stating the withdrawal. If this is not done, the withdrawal will not be valid."

Lawyer Tevfik Sonmez Kucuk reiterated this point. Kucuk warned, "Withdrawal from candidacy should be an official procedure. You can say it on television or on the phone. However, this does not have an official nature in terms of the law. Therefore, the candidate who withdraws must submit a petition to the YSK as soon as possible."


Another issue that concerns voters is whether Ince's name will be removed from the ballots following his announcement.

According to the relevant law, the process works as follows: As per Article 9 of the Presidential Election Law, the Supreme Election Council determines the temporary candidate list, which shows the eligibility for election and the conditions for nomination. The temporary candidate list and the objection period are published in the Official Gazette.

According to the election calendar prepared by the Supreme Election Council, the temporary candidate list for the presidency was published on March 28, 2023. There was a two-day period for objections to be made to the YSK. The YSK decided on the objections by March 30.

Finally, on March 31, 2023, the YSK published the final candidate list in the Official Gazette. At this point, the process needs to proceed according to Article 12 of the Presidential Election Law. According to Article 12, in the first round of voting, from the publication of the final candidate list in the Official Gazette until 5:00 PM on the day of voting, any decrease or changes in the list do not require any alterations. The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the election was March 30th. Even if a candidate withdraws from the election from March 31st until 5:00 PM on May 14th when the voting process ends, their name will continue to appear on the ballot. In other words, according to Article 12 of the law, Ince's name will appear on the ballot.

CHP representative Yakupoglu and HDP representative Tiryaki also stated that the ballots would not be renewed, considering the relevant article of the law.


So, considering that the voting period has ended abroad and the ballot boxes have been transported to Turkey by cargo planes, will the votes given to Ince be considered valid or invalid?

Lawyers and representatives of political parties stated that the Presidential Election Law is deficient in this regard. It seems that there is no clear answer in the law regarding what will happen to the votes in the event of a candidate's withdrawal or death. When the Presidential Election Law is insufficient, the first reference is made to Law No. 2839 on the Election of Members of Parliament. According to Article 25 of the relevant law:

"Decreases that occur in the candidate lists due to death or resignation from the date of finalization of the candidate lists until 5:00 PM on the day of voting do not require the completion of the lists. However, in the event of a vacancy in the candidate lists due to the reasons mentioned above, the candidates on the list are shifted according to the order of the list to fill the vacant positions."

In parliamentary elections, the next person on the list is moved up. But what will happen in the presidential election?

CHP representative Yakupoglu stated, "Unlike parliamentary elections, presidential elections are not entered with a list, and no one becomes a candidate with their substitute. Candidates compete individually. Just as the name of the withdrawing candidate appears on the ballot, their votes will also be considered valid. So, the votes given to Ince will be valid."

HDP representative Tiryaki made a similar comment. Tiryaki stated, "Ince's votes are valid. However, there is a detail here. Yes, Ince or someone else will receive their votes. The overseas votes are also valid. However, if the withdrawing candidate receives more than 50%+1 of the votes in the first round, that is, if they are elected as the president, they cannot receive a certificate of election. Similarly, if they finish first in the first round, they cannot participate in the second round, and the election will be between the candidates who received the highest and second-highest votes."

Tiryaki's assessment aligns with Yakupoglu's comments. Yakupoglu also noted that even if the withdrawing candidate receives more than 50%+1 of the votes in the first round, they cannot become the president and cannot compete in the second round.

On the other hand, there are also legal experts who argue that Ince's votes should not be considered valid. Tevfik Sonmez Kucuk stated, "Once Ince submits his withdrawal petition to the YSK, he will have withdrawn from the race. In this case, he legally loses his candidacy. Therefore, his votes, including overseas votes, should be considered invalid."

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