Delay in business chamber elections in Turkey stirs debate
ISTANBULThe postponement of presidential elections in a total of 364 business chambers and commodity exchanges across Turkey through a decree law has stirred debate and uncertainty.
Elections for business chambers and commodity exchanges were postponed until April 2018 in order to create a “fairer and healthier vote environment,” Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkci said late on Sept. 24.
According to the previous timetable, these elections would have been conducted in October and November.
“Over the last couple of months we received many complaints about the upcoming elections. There was a steep rise in the number of new startups in some business chambers. Considering these complaints and demands, we decided to delay the elections until April 2018,” Tüfenkci said.
“This decision will pave the way to a healthier and fairer election period,” he added.
However, sources close to the matter suggest that there may be other less positive reasons behind the move.
“Businesses that are close to the government have asked for the delay in elections in order to prepare better, as several initial surveys show that their candidates lagging behind other candidates,” one told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Another source said the number of parties making such complaints was limited to “four or five candidates in some provinces in the Black Sea region, Istanbul and some eastern regions.”
“We have seen complaints coming mainly from candidates who are close to the ministry,” added the source.
Previously any business earned the right to vote as soon as it was established, but had to wait at least two years to run in elections. With the new decree law regulations, the conditions to vote and to run in chamber elections were equaled at two years.
The move has been widely praised due to rumors regarding the period ahead of a by-election at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) last year, when one of the presidential candidates was accused of establishing a number of “fake companies” to strengthen his hand.
The upcoming ATO elections were postponed last week in order to investigate such claims.