There were once-reliable institutions in Turkey, and everyone would take pride in those institutions even if he or she would never need help or services of them throughout his or her life.
The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) was one of those institutions.
Each time we were on our way to the ballot box on an election day, we would know for sure that our vote would be treated as a precious public asset, and not even a single vote would be allowed to be wasted. We would never think otherwise.
For my part, when I was together with foreign colleagues who felt the need for talking to me before or after an election, I always responded to those inquiring and somewhat doubtful questions of them starting with the phrase “I wonder. . .” with the same firm answer without slightest hesitation: “This is Turkey, and neither any election deceit would ever be attempted here, nor would such an attempt ever be permitted.“
Just because of this unshakable belief I had, I had been taken aback when AK Party appealed to the Electoral Council for annulment of the mayoral election in Istanbul, and I had thought that those arguments in the appeal would not have been found worth for a serious consideration, thus, the Council would have dismissed the appeal without dwelling on it.
Not only did I think so, but I also shared my view regarding the appeal for annulment with my readers through several pieces on these pages until YSK announced its decision after a weeks-long period: “YSK, composed of senior jurists who have reached the highest position in their public service, would not take a decision in favor of re-run of the election.“
YSK and its decisions
The members of YSK are all highly experienced jurists chosen by supreme judicial bodies such as the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State.
Unfortunately, the members of YSK exceeded their authority that have been laid down by the laws. What is more, their latest decisions, non-appealable by definition, were in dire contrast with those decisions they had taken earlier in similar cases.
In the last occasion almost a week ago, they decided to go ahead with the same city and district election boards, which were at work in the March 31 election, for the coming election on June 23. This is such a perplexing decision that one wonders if the members of the Council forgot what justification they had relied on when they decided for re-run of the election in Istanbul: “Some balloting committees, organized by the city and district election boards, were consigned to individuals who were not civil servants.”
Weren’t these individuals mentioned in the decision had been claimed to have some sort of affiliation with PKK and FETÖ, and even blamed for being a ‘criminal band‘? [FETÖ is the derogatory reference to the outlawed Gülen’s Movement, and PKK is the abbreviation of the armed Kurdish organization, committing terrorist acts -TN]
Was such a self-contradictory decision purposefully taken in order to prepare an excuse for annulment of the next election on June 23?
These are only a few of those questions that have risen in the media after the latest decision of YSK.
Would you please just think a while over what a disappointing perception this institution now causes about itself while it is expected to be one of the most reliable institutions?
There is even more to this.
When this latest decision understandably provoked a rising number of arrows of criticism, the board president of YSK felt obliged to make a midnight announcement on the second festive day in order to remedy the situation. No, they would not go ahead with the same supervisors in city and district election boards, and even they would appeal to the chief public prosecutor’s offices for launching investigations about the supervisors of the ballot boxes where some irregularities were detected. . .
The supervisors of city and district election boards are the highest-level judges in their own constituencies, and the judicial body with the authority to launch an investigation about these judges is not public prosecutor’s offices, but the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK). . .
To our amazement, YSK, a body of most experienced senior jurists of our country, now appears in its desperate attempt for the sake of appearance not to know what judicial institution it must appeal for a disciplinary proceeding. . .
When catching tripping, it is said, YSK changed the address of its appeal to HSK. . .
Let us assume that HSK accepted the appeal, discharged the supervisors of city and district election boards who are subjected to the disciplinary proceeding, and assigned new judges to these positions. Now, given the fact that there are only a limited number of days to the election date, this question arises inevitably: Will these new supervisors of city and district election boards be able to find enough number of incontestable civil servants to be assigned to ballot boxes?
What if they fail to find them?
What appears to be doom and gloom is that the president of YSK, who had lodged a statement of opposition to the decision of his board to annul the election in Istanbul, keeps taking self-contradictory decisions in a desperate attempt to grand the justification of the election annulment some excusableness. . . When dean of a district election board and a chief supervisor, subjected to the claims for having been involved in ‘shady deals‘ appealed to YSK with the request for removal from their positions, the president of YSK had responded stating this: “Nothing can be done concerning your request for reassignment at this stage.“
Now, however, the same president of YSK states that his board will take necessary steps for reassignments of chief supervisors in ‘problematic election boards’. . .
The president of YSK had lodged a statement of opposition to the decision for re-run of the election in Istanbul, and stated this in his minute of dissent: “Irregularities at election boards do not constitute complete unlawfulness and such a situation alone cannot be a justifiable reason for annulment of election.“
What self-contradictory deeds these are.
[The British playwright William Shakespeare has a play which is named “The Comedy of Errors”. A series of contradictions that the play bases itself on take place in the ancient city of Ephesus which is located in the Western part of Turkey. Once I had wondered why the location of the play was Ephesus. I have already satisfied my curiosity about this. A comprehensive piece about the contradictory decisions of YSK by Muharrem Sarıkaya is available on the Habetürk website.]
The old say “If you fasten the first button of the shirt wrong, the remaining will go wrong, too.” When looking at the given state of affairs around YSK, one cannot help but recall this saying. . .
Not so long ago, YSK was well up on the list of the most reliable public institutions in our country, and, being completely sure that no deceit would ever take place in elections, we would take pride in the reliability of YSK.
There must be a reason for all these contradictions, and I really wonder what the reason may be.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on June 7, 2019]