Despite a higher voter turnout compared to previous years with 45 million people voting in Sunday's local elections, approximately seven million potential voters did not cast a ballot out of a total electorate of 52 million people, Today's Zaman reported.
In metropolitan provinces such as İstanbul and Ankara, millions of people who had been forecast to vote for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) did not go to the polls. According to the daily Karşı, a survey by the Gezici Research Company in January had predicted that nearly six million voters would not cast their votes in the local elections. Several academics and politicians have offered reasons for the absence of such a large number of voters.
The CHP İstanbul deputy and former academic Binnaz Toprak said that many people thought that their votes would have no effect on the results and they did not go to the polls for this reason. "There is a considerable number of people who think that no political party reflects their ideals and political preferences. Severe weather conditions might be a reason [for low attendance] in the eastern part of Turkey. There is need for an academic study on this issue to determine who refrained from voting, whether it was young or old people, poor or wealthy. If I was still an academic, I would conduct this research."
Another CHP deputy from İstanbul, Melda Onur, has a different explanation about those who preferred not to vote for any political parties. She says: "I think that the followers of the Hizmet movement [inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen] who voted for the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AK Party in previous polls did not cast their votes this time. A considerable number of young people thought that no political party represents their demands, causing them to abstain from making their voice heard. To be honest, we cannot ignore that a certain number of CHP supporters, especially in Ankara and İstanbul, disagree with the CHP's policies and they showed their reaction by not casting their votes. There is also another group who wanted to vote but were not registered."
Political scientist Yüksel Taşkın argues that the turnout has been high in elections since 2002: "Turkey saw an 80 percent turnout in Sunday's elections, meaning that a great majority of voters went to the polls to voice their opinion about the future of Turkey. Making a sociological assessment and analysis regarding the number of people who preferred not to vote for any political party seems rather difficult without a comprehensive examination of the figures, region by region. Maybe the Dec. 17 process, which kicked off a massive corruption scandal, caused some of the electorate not to vote. It is undeniable that a significant number of people felt torn between the ruling AK Party and the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP."
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