Only 34 candidates disclosed their finances in Turkey

Only 34 candidates disclosed their finances in Turkey

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive running for the U.S. Presidency in the 2016 elections, disclosed her income and assets the other day. Fiorina and her husband have a net worth of $59 million, making her one of the wealthiest candidates in the race so far, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Hillary Clinton had disclosed her assets as $15 million. However, not all of the candidates running for the presidential elections are millionaires. The assets of independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is a candidate from the Democratic Party, were $330,500.

It is a normal practice in the United States and other countries of the world for candidates to disclose their finances.

What is the situation in Turkey?

The call for financial disclosure

The only institution that takes this issue into account in our country is Transparency International Turkey (TI Turkey). 

TI Turkey started talks with four parties last December with the hope they could convince the parties to make a decision on the candidates to disclose their finances. After all the claims of corruption, we might expect the parties to approach the issue positively, right?

Of the four parties, only the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have approached TI Turkey’s demand positively. But both could not succeed in making a party decision. 

Securing the support of some other non-governmental organizations, TI Turkey made a call to thousands of the candidates who will participate in the elections to disclose their finances. We are talking about 19 political parties and thousands of candidates.

How many of them would you say have answered this call positively? Only 34.

The record belongs to HDP

Of the 34 person list, which you can see on TI Turkey’s website, the party with the most candidates to disclose their income and assets was the HDP.

21 HDP candidates, 7 CHP candidates and only one candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Yurt Partisi (Homeland Party) and Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) made their financial disclosures. Only three of the 182 independent candidates, that include Batuhan Aydagül, an education expert, have answered the call.

 The fact that the “record” belongs to the HDP could be understood as a message that says “we are not entering politics to become rich.”

It is worth thinking of the fact that only one candidate (Cemal Bekle from İzmir) from the AKP disclosed their income and assets.

Meanwhile, even though he did not succeeded in making a party decision, the financial disclosure of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, is present on the party’s web site. It was placed on the web site much earlier than TI Turkey’s call.

Actually, parliamentarians fill out a form about their income and assets like Kılıçdaroğlu when they are elected to parliament.

Yet these forms are for some reason not open to the public and renewed every five years. As elections are held every four years, it is not possible to understand the rationale behind this.

TI Turkey, which was established in 2008, fights against corruption with a team that is mostly formed of young people in their 30’s. Look what Oya Özarslan, the head of TI Turkey, said:

“It is a huge disappointment, that among thousands of candidates only 34 persons have made their financial disclosure. The fact that the majority of candidates avoid doing so is a reflection of the secrecy culture in our country.”

If we elect representatives who do not want to be accountable to society, part of the blame also belongs to us, the voters.