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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Statistical study of Turkey’s November election suggests widespread voting manipulation,

Statistical study of Turkey’s general election suggests widespread vote manipulation. (intellinews).

A statistical study of the voting patterns in Turkey’s November 1 general election found strong evidence that is “consistent with widespread voting manipulation".

That was the conclusion of a paper released by assistant professor Erik Meyersson at Stockholm School of Economics entitled “Digit Tests and the Peculiar Election Dynamics of Turkey’s November Elections", and released on November 4.

The result of the elections came as a shock as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defied the almost universal polling consensus and won some 9 percentage points more than expected – just enough to rule alone, but not quite a constitutional majority.

Some have speculated that faced with external and internal instability Turks have turned to a strong leader to see them through uncertain times in what might be called a “Sultan complex". However, drilling down into the voting statistics Meyersson concludes that Sunday’s result was not so much an AKP victory as a defeat for the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP).

The main statistical test the paper explores is the use of the so-called Benford’s Law that is a widespread statistical technique for spotting cheating in polls and has a big body of academic literature behind it.

The way it works is simple: in a fair vote the last number of the final tally for each polling station should be randomly distributed. As humans are very bad at generating random numbers if the vote count has been tampered with then this randomness is destroyed and a discernable pattern emerges.

In a table that measures this frequency of number pairs Meyersson found that, “In all but one cases does  the occurrences of adjacent digits change between November and June for the MHP, and for the HDP there is a statistically significant change in the five largest provinces sample.”

Overall, this analysis shows evidence that would be consistent with widespread voting manipulation, not proof of it, both in terms of the change in the distribution of last as well as adjacent digits,” Meyersson concludes the paper with.

“Sunday’s landslide victory by the AKP represents a remarkable comeback for a government that according to the overwhelming majority of polling companies looked set to repeat its June loss. Many are now pointing fingers at these pollsters (and analysts overall) asking how they could have been so wrong. But what if they weren’t?” Read and see the full study here.

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