AKP submits draft law changing Turkey’s top electoral board

AKP submits draft law changing Turkey’s top electoral board

AKP submits draft law changing Turkey’s top electoral board

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a draft law changing the organization and duties of the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) on Nov. 21.

The draft law, submitted to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office, leaves the current configuration of the YSK unchanged at seven original and four substitute members from the Supreme Court and the Council of State.

However, it changes the current law on the appointment of all ballot box committee (BBC) chairpersons, stating that they will all now be appointed by the state, bypassing political parties’ initiatives in determining the ballot box committee.

According to the current Law on Basic Provisions, ballot box committees for elections consist of a chairperson and six members for each ballot box: Two civil servants and five representatives of political parties. Ballot box committee members are nominated by political parties and chairpersons are appointed by District Electoral Board (DEB) chairs and political parties together.

In the April 2017 referendum at least 170 ballot box committees chairpersons nominated by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were rejected before the vote. The issue was included in the OSCE’s later critical report on the referendum, which it said was “contested on an unlevel playing field.”

The new draft law stipulates that the DEB chair draws up a list of government officials who could be ballot box committee chairs, with the chair being appointed from this list.

The draft also changes regulations for electoral observers, obliging all political parties and independent nominees to apply for observer cards from the DEB office. Those who do not possess the card during the election will not be able to monitor ballot boxes during votes.

The configuration of the YSK will remain the same, with seven original and four substitute members. Six of the members will be elected from the Supreme Court and six will be from the Council of State. The members’ term will be six years and a member whose term has ended can be re-elected. The chair and deputy chair will be elected from within the members of the board.