2014 Turkish local elections

Local elections (formal: Local authority general elections, Turkish: Mahalli İdareler Genel Seçimi or simply Yerel Seçimleri) were held in Turkey on 30 March 2014, with some repeated on 1 June 2014. Metropolitan and district mayors as well as their municipal council members in cities, and muhtars and "elderly councils" in rural areas (and also in mahalles within urban areas) were elected. In light of the controversy around the elections, it was viewed as a referendum on the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[1] About 50 million people were eligible to vote.

2014 Turkish local elections

30 March 2014
1 June (re-runs)

All 30 metropolitan and 1,351 district municipal mayors of Turkey
All 1,251 provincial and 20,500 municipal councillors of Turkey
  Majority party Minority party
Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Party AK Party CHP
Leader since 14 August 2001 22 May 2010
Last election 1,452 mayors, 16,621 councillors, 38.39% 506 mayors, 6,737 councillors, 23.08%
Mayors 18 M, 800 D 6 M, 226 D
Councillors 779 P, 10,530 M 159 P, 4,161 M
Popular vote^ 17,802,976 10,938,262
Percentage 42.87% 26.34%
Swing 4.48% 3.26%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Devlet Bahçeli Selahattin Demirtaş*
Leader since 6 July 1997 1 February 2010
Last election 484 mayors, 6,419 councillors, 15.97% 97 mayors, 1,404 councillors, 5.26%
Mayors 3 M, 166 D 2 +1 ind. M, 97 D
Councillors 174 P, 3,501 M 129 P, 1,441 M
Popular vote^ 7,399,119 2,611,127
Percentage 17.82% 6.29%
Swing 1.85% 1.03%

Results map showing the winning party by provincial capitals (top) and by the districts of Turkey (bottom)

^ Four different elections in order to elect both types of councillor and mayor were held on the same day. The results shown here are the municipal councillor election results, which best reflect the overall voting intentions of the electorate. See the results section for the full results. * The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) ran alongside the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The combined results of both are shown.

A local government re-organisation took place before the election, lowering the total number of elected officials from 38,592 to 23,132. Almost 1,500 beldes (small municipal towns) had their municipalities abolished, meaning that a significantly fewer number of mayors were elected compared to the 2009 local elections. Most provinces no longer elect any provincial councillors. The number of metropolitan municipalities, however, rose from 16 to 30.

The elections were marred by allegations of electoral fraud[2][3][4] and violence, with both opposition and ruling party candidates alike refusing to recognise a wide variety of results. Significant cases of fraud in Ankara[5] and Yalova[6] were referred to the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey for reviewal. Allegations of misconduct included the untimely power cuts in several areas while the votes were being counted (claimed to be caused by cats entering transformers), intimidation by government forces such as the European Union Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and the Anatolian Agency in electorally strategic districts, the theft and burning of votes cast for opposition candidates and the recording of opposition votes as invalid or blank.[7][8][9][10][11][12] The elections had been controversial due to allegations of government corruption, voter bribery and the lack of up-to-date voter records beforehand.[13][14]

Regardless, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) declared victory in the early hours of 31 March,[15] gaining 42.89% of the vote, 818 municipalities and 11,309 councillors. The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) came second with 26.34%, 232 municipalities and 4,320 councillors, announcing that it would be filing complaints against alleged electoral manipulation.[16][17][18] By 4 April 2014, numerous municipalities changed mayors following recounts.[19] Gradual post-election revelations of alleged widespread irregularities in several cities sparked pro-democracy protests after provisional results were announced, while the Electoral Council declared results in some areas null and void.[20][21] A repeat of the elections in these areas took place on 1 June. These most notably occurred in Yalova and Ağrı, in which the ruling AKP had lost by a small margin to the CHP and BDP respectively on March 30. In a first of a series of trials relating to electoral fraud claims, a returning officer was sentenced to five years in prison in June 2015 after being found guilty of transferring CHP votes to the AKP.[22]


Turkish local elections are held every five years in order to elect mayors to 30 metropolitan municipalities, 1,008 district municipalities and 2,187 town municipalities.[23] In addition, an excess of 53,450 neighbourhood leaders (muhtars) are elected, though most are non-partisan and do not have any declared political allegiance.[24] Elderly and municipal council compositions were also elected through a separate ballot. The previous elections were held on 29 March 2009 and were won by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP with 38.8% of the vote.[25]

Local government reform

Before the elections, the numbers of councillors and mayors were reduced during the 2013 Turkish local government reorganisation. During the reorganisation, 1,040 beldes were abolished, leaving the number of small town municipalities at 394 and contributing to the reduction in the number of mayors elected in 2014 in comparison to 2009.[26][27]

The following table shows the numbers of metropolitan and district municipalities, as well as provincial and municipal councillors elected in 2009 and in 2014. In local elections, municipal mayors and councillors are the only partisan officials elected.[28][29][30][31]

Office Elected in 2009 Elected in 2014 Change
Metropolitan municipalities16[28]30[32]14
District municipalities2,903[29]1,351[33]1,552
Provincial councillors3,281[30]1,251[34]2,030
Municipal councillors32,392[31]20,500[35]11,892

2013–2014 anti-government protests

In 2013, a spate of anti-government protests and counter measures took place. The 2014 local elections are the first elections since the protests, and have thus been seen as a test for the government's popularity following a criticism both domestically and internationally for what was perceived to be a crackdown on peaceful protestors.[36][37] The controversy surrounding the police response resulted in Germany seeking to delay European Union accession talks with Turkey.[38]

17 December corruption scandal

On 17 December 2013, police arrested several close associates and family members of government ministers as part of a corruption investigation. Prime Minister Erdoğan responded by either dismissing or reassigning thousands of police and judicial personnel while denying all allegations of wrongdoing.

A string of recorded phone calls between government ministers and close supporters allegedly discussing corruption were made public following the start of the corruption scandal. On 24 February 2014, a 10-minute phone call between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan were made public, in which the Prime Minister was warning his son of police searches in other government ministers' residences and telling him to "nullify" any cash which might be stored in their own. The tape caused particular damnation, after which CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu advised the Prime Minister to "flee by helicopter."[39] The Prime Minister responded by calling the tape a "montage," though this claim could not be verified by the national scientific development agency TÜBİTAK.[40][41][42] It was reported that six people were removed from their roles at TÜBİTAK for refusing to falsify the recording,[43][44] with one reporting that he was openly asked by superiors to manipulate reports related to the recordings.[45][46]

Following the release, thousands took to the streets demanding the government's resignation.[47][48][49] Protesters threw fake money in the air and also left empty shoe boxes near AKP offices, symbolising the US$4.5 million found stuffed into shoe-boxes at the home of Halkbank's former manager Süleyman Aslan[50] Though protests were not as large as the June 2013 Gezi protests, the police were again criticised for a brutal crackdown.[51][52]

Judiciary, Internet & MİT laws

The government responded to the tape revelations by pushing through three controversial laws which would tighten the AKP's grip on the judiciary,[53] allow greater control over internet access,[54] and increase the powers of Turkey's intelligence services (MİT).[55] While some saw these laws as necessary to restore peace throughout the country and increase internet safety, the opposition accused the government for openly attempting to increase their powers in order to further defame the rule of law. Regardless, the AKP's sizeable parliamentary majority led to all laws being passed by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The laws also caused a rift between Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, who criticised some aspects of the laws. Regardless of their differences, the President signed the bills into law despite speculation that he might veto them.

The new laws drew criticism from the public, with several demonstrators taking to the streets accusing the government of encroachments against their rights and privacy.[56] Protestors again clashed with police, though the protests failed to materialise back to June 2013 levels.[57][58]

Twitter and YouTube bans

On 20 March 2014, ten days before the elections, Prime Minister Erdoğan threatened to "wipe out" Twitter during an election rally in Bursa.[59] Thousands of Turkish web users found that they could not access the site hours after the speech, with the government claiming that Twitter had failed repeatedly to adhere to Turkish court orders requiring the removal of some links.[60] Despite causing outrage, the Twitter ban was almost completely overcome by users simply changing DNS settings.[61] The government retaliated just a few days before the elections by blocking Google's DNS service, making defiance more difficult.[62][63][64] Regardless, #erdoganblockedtwitter, #twitterisblockedinturkey and #turkeyblockedtwitter began trending worldwide soon after news of the ban was made public.[65]

On 21 March 2014, Ankara's Attorney General issued a statement denying the government's claims that they had a court order validating the ban on Twitter.[66][67][68] The ban's practical failure and its violation of internet freedoms received criticism, and the US House of Representatives was presented with two resolutions condemning the Turkish government for blocking Twitter and YouTube.[69][70] On 2 April, 3 days after the elections, the Turkish Constitutional Court issued a verdict annulling the Twitter ban for its violation of Article 26 (Freedom of Expression) of the Turkish Constitution.[71][72]

On 28 March 2014, the telecommunications regulator (TİB) made use of the government's new controversial internet law by blocking YouTube without court order.[73] The ban occurred shortly after the release and placing on YouTube of a recorded conversation allegedly between the deputy armed forces chief of staff Yaşar Güler, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Ministry of Intelligence Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.[74][75] In the conversation, Fidan was allegedly recorded considering a deliberate act of military aggression against Syria in order to spark a war.[76][77] While not confirming the validity of the recording, Prime Minister Erdoğan claimed that the making of the recording was "treacherous," and that YouTube had subsequently been blocked due to concerns for national security.[78]

Pre-election rigging controversies

In the lead-up to elections, both the ruling AKP and opposition parties warned that preparations for substantial electoral fraud were being taken.[79]

In December 2013, it emerged that several voters had been made members of different political parties without their approval in an attempt to bolster support without their consent. Voters affected appealed to the Prosecutor General's office after it emerged that their details had been used to register them.[80]

On 29 February 2014, a recording of a phone call between Ankara metropolitan mayor Melih Gökçek and the Prime Minister's secretary Mustafa Varank allegedly depicted both agreeing to censor the opposition CHP's election posters.[82][83] The recording has not yet been proven to be either legitimate or fake.

Concerns were raised in Ankara as CHP metropolitan mayoral candidate Mansur Yavaş claimed that there were 58,000 duplicate records in Ankara alone that would allow select voters to vote twice. He also announced that his election team would do everything to prevent such manipulation. The MHP candidate Mevlüt Karakaya also called for voters and ballot officials to remain vigilant. Meanwhile, the incumbent AKP candidate Melih Gökçek accused "marginal groups" of plotting to rig the elections, blaming them for the AKP's losses in Ankara's Yenimahalle, Etimesgut and Gölbaşı districts in the 2009 elections.[84] The provisional results in Ankara, which initially showed a 0.9% lead for the AKP, were widely criticised by the opposition and caused a massive recounting campaign by the CHP.

Turkish Newspaper Cumhuriyet claimed that the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey (YSK) had printed 141,654,161 ballot papers despite an electorate formed of 52,695,831 voters.[85] Some sources, including the YSK itself, put the number of ballot papers printed to between 144 and 151 million. The YSK responded by defending its decision, saying that it was required by law to send 15% more ballot papers extra to each ballot box. The YSK also re-iterated that more than one ballot paper was required per voter since different ballots were used to elect municipal mayors, muhtars and city councils.[86] Nevertheless, members of the opposition raised concern on how the extra ballot papers would be utilised, with MHP MPs warning that the spare ballot papers would be used by the PKK to increase the votes of the pro-Kurdish BDP in the south-east.[87]

Several controversies following the distribution of ballot papers to voter's residences before the elections raised concern about the validity of the YSK's voter records. Upon receiving extra ballot papers, several families complained to the YSK, claiming to have received more ballot papers than necessary. It was also observed that dead citizens were on the electoral roll, and several ballot papers had been sent to persons who had been dead for a considerable amount of time or false addresses which did not exist.[87] On 15 March 2014, Ankara's AKP mayor Melih Gökçek spoke on live television regarding the possible use of Chinese temporary tattoo pens whilst recording the results from each ballot box. This would allegedly mean that some results would completely disappear shortly after being recorded, allowing "some groups" to edit the numbers while transporting the ballot result papers to the YSK.[79] The opposition CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş replied by calling the mayor "paranoid," adding that he was a "mayor from the ruling party. Rather than announcing these allegations on television, he should be taking legal action."[88]

On 29 March 2014, the police received a tip-off that large numbers of fake ballot papers were being stored at a printing press in the district of Gaziemir in Izmir.[89] Despite conducting a detailed search of the compound, the police failed to find any fake votes.[90] Despite reports by several news agencies, the allegations that a van full of ballot papers with a pre-printed "yes" vote for the AKP was impounded on in Izmir's Çınarlı district[91][92][93][94][95] could not be verified due to a similar situation being reported before the 2011 general elections.[96]

Another debate was on the voting rights of the 250,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey due to the Syrian Civil War. The controversy began in late 2013 after the CHP's deputy leader Gürsel Tekin claimed that several refugees had been registered on the electoral roll.[97] The Ministry of the Interior responded by stating that a non-citizen within Turkey had to wait five years before being eligible to vote. However, it emerged that several Syrian refugees had been made Turkish citizens already.[98] While the opposition claimed that Syrian votes would be used to bolster AKP support due to their lax border policies,[99] the government and the Association for Solidarity with Refugees denied these claims.[100][101] Nevertheless, three Syrians were caught attempting to cast votes during the elections.[102]


The incumbent national party is the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and its principal opposition parties are the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is a Kurdish party; the new left wing party, the Peoples' Democratic Party, is allied with it.[103]


Large-scale election rallies dominated the pre-election political scene, mostly being held by the governing AKP and the main opposition CHP.


About 50 million people were eligible to vote in 1379 electoral sees. On election day, violence resulted in eight deaths. The Doğan news agency reported six deaths and four injuries in the village of Yuvacık in Şanlıurfa. It also reported that in Hatay rival families fought with clubs, knives and guns in support of their respective candidates resulting in two deaths and nine injuries.[1][104] In the early hours of 31 March, 1,418 claims of electoral fraud were reported.[105] Power cuts during the counting process in some provinces,[106] as well as the publication of widely different results by different news agencies, also caused controversy.[107]


Party Justice and Development Party
Republican People's Party
Nationalist Movement Party
Peace and Democracy Party
Felicity Party
Great Union Party
Leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Devlet Bahçeli Selahattin Demirtaş (HDP) Mustafa Kamalak Mustafa Destici
Metropolitan Municipalities 18 (60.0%) 6 (20.0%) 3 (10.0%) 2 (6.7%) 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%)
18 / 30
6 / 30
3 / 30
2 / 30
0 / 30
0 / 30
District Municipalities 800 (59.2%) 226 (16.7%) 166 (12.3%) 97 (7.2%) 27 (2.0%) 6 (0.4%)
800 / 1,351
226 / 1,351
166 / 1,351
97 / 1,351
27 / 1,351
6 / 1,351
Metropolitan Councillors 10,530 (51.4%) 4,161 (20.3%) 3,501 (17.4%) 1,441 (7.0%) 411 (2.0%) 165 (0.8%)
10,530 / 20,498
4,161 / 20,498
3,501 / 20,498
1,441 / 20,498
411 / 20,498
165 / 20,498
Provincial Councillors 779 (62.3%) 159 (12.7%) 174 (13.9%) 129 (11.0%) 5 (0.3%) 4 (0.2%)
779 / 1,251
159 / 1,251
174 / 1,251
129 / 1,251
5 / 1,251
4 / 1,251

Below are the results for the elected councillors and municipal mayors. The number of councillor and mayoral positions up for election in 2014 vary widely in comparison to 2009 (See the local government reform section or 2013 Turkish local government reorganisation). For this reason, the changes per party in terms of officials elected between 2009 and 2014 are not representative of party performance. Rather, the change in proportion of officials held per party is a more accurate comparison between party performances since 2009, however it should also be taken into account that the abolition or introduction of several elected officials in certain areas where particular parties are the strongest has also led to disproportionate changes.[32][33][34][35][108][109]

Metropolitan municipality results

District municipality results

Municipal councillor results

Provincial councillor results

Results by province

The following results show winners by province as of 1 April 2014. Metropolitan provinces are in bold. AKP denotes provinces won by the Justice & Development Party, CHP denotes provinces won by the Republican People's Party, MHP denotes provinces won by the Nationalist Movement Party and BDP denotes provinces won by the Peace and Democracy Party.


Complaints & recounts

Provisional results in several districts were contested by all major parties, including the governing AKP, claiming misconduct during the counting process and thus demanding a recount. Applications for recounts were made to the YSK shortly after the elections concluded.[110][111] Turkey's Constitutional Court has rejected an individual application filed by Mansur Yavaş, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) candidate for mayor in Ankara.[112]

Electorate demographics

A survey of the Turkish electorate demographics by KONDA[113]
Male 4223176100
Female 4125115100
18-28 36231810100
29-43 4422147100
>44 4326113100
Illiterate 488523100
Literate with no diploma 492398100
Primary school 5019115100
Middle school 4317168100
High school 3630165100
University 2935171100
Master's degree 1255156100
<700 42181115100
701-1200 4717129100
1201-2000 4225154100
2001-3000 4030143100
>3001 3040152100
Civil servant 3429181100
Private sector 3330191100
Worker 40231713100
Tradespeople 42161611100
Retired 4032111100
Housewife 482097100
Student 25321810100
Unemployed 3920209100
Turkish 422616<1100
Kurdish 426439100
Sunni Muslim 4520146100
Alevi Muslim 96956100
Turkey 4224146100
A survey of the Turkish electorate demographics by KONDA[113]
Male 4946605249
Female 5154404851
Total 100100100100100
18-28 2124334025
29-43 3731353434
>44 4245322641
Total 100100100100100
Illiterate 622215
Literate with no diploma 22132
Primary school 4430302637
Middle school 1510162114
High school 2434332428
University 92017413
Master's degree 02111
Total 100100100100100
<700 866228
701-1200 3723305233
1201-2000 3536382135
2001-3000 151916516
>3001 7151009
Total 100100100100100
Employed 3637463738
Retired 141912415
Housewife 4029242635
Student 51111148
Unemployed 43674
Unable to work 10121
Total 100100100100100
Turkish 818892380
Kurdish 13338813
Zaza 120102
Arab 12001
Other 45404
Total 100100100100100
Sunni Muslim 9978989593
Alevi Muslim 118236
Other 04011
Total 100100100100100

Detailed results by province

Metropolitan municipalities

The following articles document the results within the three main provinces of Turkey.

  • 2014 Ankara mayoral elections
  • 2014 İstanbul mayoral elections
  • 2014 İzmir mayoral elections

District municipalities

See also


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