YSK’s rejection of ballot box relocation an ‘erosion of authority,’ says PM
AA PhotoPrime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has joined criticism of Turkey’s top election authority for its refusal to call for the relocation of ballot boxes in several eastern and southeastern districts, though Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş voiced confidence that security forces and local administrations would find a “formula” for a safe election.
Speaking to private broadcaster Habertürk on Oct. 5, Davutoğlu said the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should consider the appeal to relocate ballot boxes under current delicate security conditions.
The YSK’s Oct. 3 decision came after a number of local election councils in eastern and southeastern Turkey asked for polling stations for the upcoming election to be moved due to security concerns in certain neighborhoods, amid deadly clashes between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“We respect the decision, but being respectful doesn’t mean agreeing that the decision is right,” Davutoğlu said, adding that the government would fulfill whatever the YSK decision required.
“But this marks an erosion of authority [by the YSK] at a critical time. If it had ruled differently, people would have more confidence in the system and they would be able to go to ballot boxes more comfortably,” he also stated.
Deputy Prime Minister Türkeş, however, downplayed the YSK decision, saying it was related to only “one percent” of the entire country where there have been security problems.
“There is nothing that will have an impact on the results of the election in general,” Türkeş told reporters on Oct. 5.
“Although results in these places [such as Cizre and Silvan] seem to be controversial at the moment, I believe that over the next month security forces and local administrations will find a formula to provide the secure voting of our citizens,” Türkeş said.
Elsewhere, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş argued that the YSK did not have the authority for the relocation of ballot boxes, according to the constitution.
“Providing election security and the safety of ballot boxes is primarily a duty for political parties. We will provide election security at all ballot boxes in Turkey along with our ballot box observers and our members of the ballot box committees. Nobody should be worried about this if other parties also make a contribution on the issue,” Demirtaş said on Oct. 5, speaking to reporters in Istanbul.
The YSK also rejected an Interior Ministry application asking for time until Oct. 7 in order to complete a risk analysis of the areas in question.
As recently as Oct. 4, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan branded the YSK “wrong” after it rejected calls for the relocation of ballot boxes in several eastern and southeastern districts.
“This is where the YSK is on the wrong track. It is the district election authorities that determine the voting neighborhoods in the districts, but the YSK is not really interested in this,” Erdoğan said.
“I hope we won’t have the problems we encountered during the June 7 elections. If so, the YSK will be responsible,” he added.