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MEHMET Y. YILMAZ >Golden opportunity for the Turkish opposition

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Before the referendum held on April 16, it was stated that 2 million new voters would be able to cast their votes for the first time. This would be the group that turned 18 after the November 2015 elections. I don’t know how many of them went to the polling station to cast their votes.  

However, we do know this: According to an IPSOS survey reported by CNN Türk, 54 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 voted “no” while 46 percent voted “yes.” This is not very surprising; youth unemployment has exceeded 25 percent. One in four young people is unemployed. 

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) calculates the “youth unemployment” for those aged between 15 and 25. Since there is also compulsory military service in the meantime, the rate drops. OECD calculations, on the other hand, are conducted for the age group from 15 to 29. If you view Turkey from this perspective, then actually one in three young people here is unemployed.  

So, it is quite normal for unemployed young people to express themselves and their reaction with a “no” vote. 

A couple of days ago, daily Hürriyet published the OECD PISA 2015 report on “Students’ Well-Being.”  
According to the report, the place of Turkish students on the list for life satisfaction was at the bottom.

Among 72 countries, Turkey was at the very bottom in the survey for life satisfaction. 

In the same survey, one third of 15-year-old students revealed that they were not at all satisfied with their lives. These children will finish school; when they reach university age, they will be of voting age. A portion of them will never go to university and the possibility for them of finding a job and having a place in social life is also very low. An economic miracle is needed for this to change in a short while. 

As I wrote at the beginning, there were 2 million youth who voted for the first time since the November 2015 elections in this April 16 referendum. 

If the date does not change, then we can expect a new, bigger group of first-time voters for the November 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections. 

An unhappy and unemployed group of first-timers… This group has not seen any other government but the Justice and Development Party (AKP) since they became aware of themselves. By 2019, AKP rule will have completed its 17th year. 

No doubt, the legitimacy or the illegitimacy of the referendum will be debated for a while. However, while this debate is ongoing, preparations should be made for 2019 in the meantime. 

Generating policies that will give hope and enthusiasm for these young people to find ways to say some concrete things should be the priority of the opposition. 

The AKP is experiencing huge power wear and tear; masses with no hope are growing and this time, the proud winner of a debatable referendum will run an election campaign. 

This referendum could be the last election that Erdoğan wins – provided that the opposition parties put themselves in order, understand well the reasons why the naysayers voted so in the referendum and come up with a presidential candidate accordingly. 


Is YSK superior to the parliament? 

The decision of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to validate the ballots that did not have the official stamp of the polling station committee will be debated much more. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) plans to take it to the Council of State, but this is a step whose out outcome we can predict because YSK decisions are definite and are not subject to judicial review. 

 The debate is not this. Our constitution and our laws are very clear on this matter. Article 101 of the Law on Basic Provisions of Elections and Voter Registers was changed on April 8, 2010, with Law Number 5980. The new version reads, “Ballots… which do not have ballot box committee stamp… are invalid.” 

This is a very clear letter with no room for interpretation. Well, on what grounds has the YSK accepted that these ballots were valid? 

There is no need to repeat here; they have a long justification. 

But I only want to ask the YSK president this:

Is it normal, is it legal for a judicial organ to put itself in the place of a legislative organ and change a very openly written provision in the law? 

Is the YSK a superior body to the parliament?

April/24/2017

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