‘No’ campaign faces systematic obstacle: CHP official
Rifat Başaran - ANKARA
REUTERS photoThe referendum campaign activities of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is facing obstacles, the party’s campaigning official has said, stressing that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been using state resources for the “yes” campaigns.
“The AKP and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] have been using all the state’s resources and its television channels, which are funded by the money of the 80 million people, for their campaigns. They are using the state’s planes, vehicles, institutions and hundreds of millions of Turkish Liras in discretionary fund,” said Erdoğan Toprak, a consultant in charge of the CHP’s campaigns.
Criticizing the latest state of emergency decree that lifted the obligation of media organizations to allocate the equal amount of propaganda time to all political parties rallying for the referendum, Toprak said it granted the “yes” campaign an advantage.
“They have removed the necessity of impartiality for a fair race in the media with the latest state of emergency decree,” he said.
“State-run TRT [State Television and Radio Channel] is only airing the ‘yes’ campaigns,” he added.
“In order to block our live broadcasts, either the president or the prime minister change the schedules of their programs in order to overlap the broadcasts,” he said.
He added that the CHP’s campaigning activities were “actively blocked.”
“We cannot even hang ‘no’ banners; we cannot rent billboards or halls. We have been facing many obstacles in the excuse of the state of emergency,” he said.
“In Konya, the CHP wanted to rent one of the halls of the Youth and Sports Provincial Directorate, where CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would address crowds. Even though we have reached the provincial director, the governor, the general director or even the minister, there was neither an approval nor a response,” he said.
“As the CHP, we have been trying to reach out to our public with our own limited resources, without even a treasury grant. Even with such ample financial power, its huge media influence and the environment of pressure, the ruling party cannot persuade the ‘yes’ vote,” he added, stating that in order to conduct campaigns under such difficult circumstances, the CHP changed its campaigning strategy.
“Since our time and resources are limited, we have to concentrate on metropolitan regions. We include the cities that we have designated as priorities in our own surveys,” he said.
“We have been paying visits to the designated locations as groups of delegations before our leader. Since we do not have strong communication power, we proceed by conducting interviews with opinion leaders and people on the field,” he said.