Voters should stand guard at polling stations across Turkey
The southeastern district of Viranşehir has 33 villages. In the 2010 referendum, around 10,000 voters from these 33 villages cast their votes - every single eligible voter. Not even one voter was missing - a unique, rare example of voter behavior. Moreover, it was from a rural southeastern region.
The story does not finish there. All of these voters, without even one exception, said “Yes” in the referendum. This was also an unprecedented outcome. Viranşehir is probably one of the main examples of poor security at the polling station.
Votes cast in any village, any housing site, or any compound, become public knowledge after elections. The political trends of those who vote becomes known. According to the result, the government either rewards that voting center and its vicinity or punishes them.
In order to provide polling station security and prevent this kind of blackmailing, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filed a petition to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on Feb. 5, 2015.
“There are serious suspicions that polling stations, rather than represent the national will, cast a shadow on the integrity of elections. Citizens are being blackmailed at the level of villages, housing compounds, lodgings, and even at the level of buildings,” the petition read.
In the 23-page petition, all of this is explained through lawful justifications and examples.
The petition also made this suggestion: “Instead of counting votes at the polling station, they should be counted at larger regional counting centers.
There should be strict control of those counting centers so that scandals such as that at Viranşehir cannot happen again. What’s more, since all the votes from all ballot boxes will be collected in a pool, it will not be possible to determine which place has which political view, and so there would be no blackmailing.
In response, the YSK has immediately decided: “This is not within our jurisdiction. We need a law for this.”
We can see that in the upcoming June elections, a vital issue will be to stand guard at polling stations until the last minute, everywhere in Turkey.
The Istanbul University elections
At the elections for the new rector of Istanbul University, Professor Raşit Tükel received 1,202 votes, Professor Mahmut Ak received 908 votes, and Professor Harun Cansız received 382 votes.
The head of the Higher Education Board (YÖK), Professor Yekta Saraç, told me the following: “Rector elections are three-phased: The election at the university, YÖK’s listing, and the appointment of the president. All three phases are legal and must be respected.”
Interestingly, runner-up Mahmut Ak said the same thing on March 13. How will YÖK form the list from the election for the rector? For over 20 years, YÖK has respected the top three candidates. It is now a tradition.
Tayyip Erdoğan likes to say at every opportunity that the “ballot box” is the only criterion. In the ballot box at the university, Professor Tükel has won. He is a person known to be loyal to democratic values. Will Erdoğan respect the ballot box and appoint Türkel? Or will he appoint Ak, who is known to be close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)? Let’s wait and see.
Public Procurement Law record
The latest omnibus bill has again led to chaos. The draft contains 27 different laws and statutory decrees.
It contains changes in areas as diverse as public works, forests, income tax, unemployment insurance, highway traffic, and labor laws. Once again, changes to the Public Procurement Law are also on the cards.
Recently, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek answered a parliamentary question on the Public Procurement Law, saying it has been amended 32 times in the past 11 years, affecting 135 articles.
This law is now changing for the 33rd time. This is a record. This record has drawn the attention of the European Union also and has been criticized in Turkey’s latest EU progress report. Any new amendment fuels claims about tenders.
Thirty-three amendments… There is no precedent of this in past governments…