Yet another messy decision by YSK ahead of Istanbul polls

Yet another messy decision by YSK ahead of Istanbul polls

With less than 20 days to go before the Istanbul re-run elections, the latest decision by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) has created yet another controversy over the safety of polls and has drawn reactions from political parties.

As can be recalled, the YSK annulled Istanbul polls on the much-disputed grounds that a number of polling station officials were not civil servants contrary to the law.

Parallel to the YSK’s probe, a number of criminal investigations have been launched against some of the provincial heads of the YSK in Istanbul as they were responsible for choosing the polling station officials.

In the light of these investigations, an appeal was made by the YSK’s Şişli district to the central decision-making body of the YSK to ask whether those provincial heads under investigation will be tasked with again selecting polling station officials, or will they be substituted.

The YSK’s answer was apparent. In line with existing laws and regulations, substituting heads of YSK’s provincial bodies and their staff was out of the question.

That means all those who were responsible for scores of irregularities that led to the annulment of Istanbul elections are and will continue to be on duty to serve in one of Turkey’s most sensitive and important polls, slated for June 23.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who also serves as chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), told reporters early June 4 that there were still issues not clarified in the YSK’s decision.

“I think there is misunderstanding”, he said, recalling that his party has made another appeal on the same matter.

President Erdoğan underlined that the Judges and Prosecutors Council ( HSK) has the right to reshuffle judges while hinting that necessary steps would be taken by both the HSK and the YSK.

The opposition’s reaction to the recent ruling was much more profound and strong.

“The YSK is denying its own justification (for the cancellation of Istanbul elections),” deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Muharrem Erkek said on June 3.

Recalling that the YSK had also withdrawn its criminal complaints against some of the provincial heads, Erkek asked: “This means that there is no crime (in regards to the Istanbul polls). So why did you annul the elections?”

CHP’s candidate for Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, who won the March 31 polls with a minor difference of votes against the AKP’s Binali Yıldırım, was also furious at the YSK.

“By giving this decision, they have declared openly that the justification they have issued (for cancelling Istanbul votes) has no meaning at all. Our democracy has received a major blow,” he stated.

This latest decision by the YSK makes the political and legal situation even messier ahead of the Istanbul elections. Concerns over the safety of the polls will increase as a result of this legal complication at the hands of the YSK.

It’s also unfortunate to observe an intensified political pressure on the election watchdog, which causes further disputed moves every passing day.

Under these conditions, it’s becoming harder to forecast where this chain of erroneous and scandalous decisions by the YSK will lead Turkey.