AK Party’s spokespeople like very much using the excuse “Our votes were stolen” for the Supreme Electoral Council’s decision to re-run the mayoral election in Istanbul, despite the fact that the Electoral Council’s reasoned decision did not mention any ‘vote-stealing‘…
In my opinion, not the votes but the election itself was stolen.
The Electoral Council turns a blind eye to this situation.
Let it be so.
Going ahead with the same faulty election boards
The actual justification of the decision to re-run the election is, according to the Council’s reasoned decision, that some balloting committees, organized by the city and district election boards under the supervision of the highest judge in each electoral district, were consigned to individuals who were not civil servants…
In other words, the Council found the city and district election boards faulty by its own decision.
The same Council announced the day before yesterday that it 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. By doing so, the Council rendered its own justification to re-run the election invalid.
Besides, the Council paved the way for annulment of the new election on June 23 as well by its latest decision if the opposition’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu wins the election again…
The same city and district election boards had organized the balloting committees during the presidential and general elections earlier, too. If something is wrong with this practice, it is not a ‘faulty practice‘ pertain to the March 31 election. The Council showed this practice as the justification of its decision for annulment of the election despite the fact that the same practice had not caused any problem in the earlier elections.
The problem here is that the same city and district election boards will continue their work to constitute the balloting committees in the coming election with the latest decision of the Electoral Council and, if the ‘faulty practice‘ is repeated in the formation of these committees even at a single voting box, this alone will be enough to raise an objection to the validity of the re-run election.
Think of it this way for a moment: One district election board failed to find a proper civil servant to assign to the head of a balloting committee as the related provisions of the law command, or some of the individuals assigned for this task eventually resigned from the task giving acceptable excuses. In the past, it was legally possible to fill in such people with ones who were only some sufficient compliance with the law. However, with the reason of the Council’s decision for the re-run of the Istanbul election, the city and district election boards have been deprived of this possibility. Now, what may happen if one electoral board fails to find sufficient number of civil servants to assign as supervisors to balloting committees, and inevitably assign individuals with some lawful compliance at a few balloting boxes as it was the case previously?
The first link in the fault chain belongs to the government
As a matter of fact, an important part of the Electoral Council’s members who took the decision to annul the Istanbul election had come to the end of their term of office a year earlier than the election date. The government wished them to continue their work, and extended their term of office. Now, the Council has just decided to go ahead with the same city and district election boards despite the fact that the Council itself had found some practices of these boards ‘faulty‘ a short while ago, and annulled the mayoral election on the basis of ‘faulty practice‘ of these boards in Istanbul, the largest city of our country where one fifth of the population live. What will happen if these boards find no other way and inevitably re-assign some of the same people to balloting committees?
This chain of assignments will lead to possible appeals for annulment of the re-run election.
Is it really possible to consider the government innocent in this situation, given the fact that the government allowed this faulty chain to occur in the first place by extending the term of office of the Council’s members?
Of course, it is impossible to think the government is innocent, for the essential misconduct was committed by the government. The government should have thanked the Council’s members for their service and said them goodbye, asked the relevant juridical authorities to assign new members to the Council, and instructed the new members to refrain from ‘faulty‘ assignments to balloting committees that had taken place in the presidential and general elections earlier.
Now we can rise this question pertaining to the June 23 election: Would the loser of the election appeal to the Electoral Council for annulment of the election if the election boards felt compelled for ‘faulty formation‘ of some balloting committees again on June 23? And, would the Council repeat its decision to annul the new election too in case of such an appeal, because it had justified its decision a short time ago on the basis of the ‘faulty formation‘ of some balloting committees?
So, what do I mean? Well, what I am saying is self-evident: Will the new election be annulled, too?
AK Party has objected to the latest decision of the Council to go ahead with the same city and district election boards.
May the government attempt to get the new election cancelled before it is even happening by using this as an excuse to do so?
This is a possibility, too. [As you would remember, a close friend of mine had whispered such a possibility into my ear weeks ago, and I had found this rather unlikely.]
We are really gifted as a nation for causing ourselves to fall into an impasse in many occurrences.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on June 5, 2019]