Turkey’s ruling party points the finger at top election body for low expat vote

Turkey’s ruling party points the finger at top election body for low expat vote

Turkey’s ruling party points the finger at top election body for low expat vote

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Presidential hopeful Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been constantly blaming the Supreme Election Board (YSK) for the low turnout among Turkish expatriates voting abroad.

Criticism of the YSK practice actually began before voting started on July 31 and has continued with a senior executive delivering remarks nearly daily, calling the YSK incompetent because of the manner in which the expatriate vote was arranged.

Erdoğan eventually personally joined in bashing the YSK.

“Actually, it is not because of the voter,” Erdoğan responded when asked late on Aug. 4, during a live interview with Kanal 24 news channel, whether he was disappointed due to the low turnout abroad.

“Unfortunately, this stems from the YSK. They came up with something called an appointment; this appointment thing turned everything upside and down. Would a citizen go out of their way to get an appointment?” Erdoğan said.

Expatriate Turks have a different “sense of belonging” for their country and the YSK has failed to meet the requirements for such excitement.

“We should have been the facilitators. I wish you could have seen the enthusiasm in the closed hall meetings I held in Europe. There is such enthusiasm, but it seems like it will perhaps hardly pass 10 percent,” Erdoğan said.

According to a senior AKP official, speaking to Reuters, out of the 2.8 million Turkish population abroad, as of the morning of Aug. 4, voter participation was around 8 percent.

Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler on Aug. 4 also suggested the YSK implemented a strict system voting, which kept the turnout low.

Some problems in overseas voting were spotted, he added, highlighting he personally called the head of the board, demanding some flexibility, to no avail.

EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was one of the Cabinet members who openly voiced the AKP’s uneasiness with the YSK as early as July 30, a day before voting abroad began.

Some of the voters would not be able to cast their ballot because they did not receive an appointment, Çavuşoğlu noted.

“The YSK should be a little more constructive on this issue,” Çavuşoğlu said at the time.

As of July 31, Zeynep Karahan Uslu, an AKP deputy and head of the Turkish delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly-Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UFM), posted messages on her Twitter account that openly reflected her resentment over YSK’s practice.

“It should be questioned why the YSK imposed an appointment system that complicates the opportunity to vote abroad. Institutions should produce solutions, not excuses,” said Uslu.