Article published in Rudaw on Turkey’s snap general elections includes four factual mistakes
On 23 April 2018, Rudaw published an article on Turkey’s snap elections to be held on 24 June 2018, which included four factual mistakes.
Firstly, the article seemed to argue that the abolishment of the post of prime minister is dependent upon the election results and that the winner will rule Turkey for the next ten years. It read: “Assuming the AKP and Erdogan win the election, the post of Prime Minister will be abolished and President Erdogan will assume even more total control over Turkey for the next ten years.”
However, the post of prime minister will necessarily be abolished after the elections regardless of their outcome since Turkey voted Yes the constitutional referendum in April 2017. The referendum transformed Turkey’s political governance system from parliamentary to executive presidential in which there is no place for the prime ministry.
Also, winning the elections will not mean automatically attaining the right to rule the country for 10 years. Both the presidential and parliamentary elections will be held at the same time every five years under the new governance system of Turkey. That is to say that the next president will rule Turkey for five years at most and will even lose the rest of their term should they renew the elections of the parliament because in the new system presidential elections must also be renewed if the president decides to renew parliamentary elections, namely, dissolves the parliament. To rule for 10 years uninterrupted, one must be elected president twice.
Secondly, the article plainly imputed to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) plans to rig the elections by way of accepting unstamped ballots. It was claimed that “when it looked like the AKP might not get what it wanted from voters, Turkey’s High Electoral Board will now accept unstamped/unverified ballots.”
As a matter of fact, Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) Chair Sadi Guven underscored that accepting unstamped ballots, which took place in the April 2017 referendum, was not a novel practice but happened in the past as well. Moreover, the stamp to be inscribed on ballots is not the only measure to ensure the security of the elections. A valid ballot must also bear the watermark and emblem of the High Electoral Board as well as the stamp of the district electoral council. Ballots which fail to fulfill even one of these conditions or other criteria will not be accepted.
Thirdly, the article claimed that electoral commissions across the country will be chosen from among “AKP loyalists” and that these commissions will not comprise members of other political parties anymore. It read: “Electoral commission staff drawn from AKP loyalists will supervise ballot counting, rather than representatives from all political parties [as was the case in the past].”
The article appeared to refer to a newly introduced rule, which in fact was an already established practice, that heads of electoral commissions for each ballot box will be drawn from a list of public employees. The number of people in the list will be double the number of electoral commissions and the president of the district electoral council will appoint heads of electoral commissions from among them. The phrase “AKP loyalists” must have addressed these prospective heads of electoral commissions.
Formerly, according to the relevant code, electoral commission heads were chosen by authorities from among “people with good fame.” The new regulation draws attention to the vagueness of this criterion and objectifies it by replacing it with the condition of being a public employee. Also, in practice, the “people with good fame” to be selected as electoral commission heads were already generally public employees.
Furthermore, the new regulation does not make any changes to the rule that an electoral commission consists of the members of the top five political parties of the last general parliamentary election.
Fourthly, the article supposed that there will still be a possibility of forming a coalition government after the snap elections. It read: “If the AKP fails to gain a parliamentary majority at the same time, this would leave the AKP with no willing coalition partners in the other parties likely to gain seats in the election (the CHP, the HDP and the Good Party, in that order). If unable to form a government, the other parties would normally get a chance to do so — or new elections would need to be called as occurred in 2015.”
However, Turkey de jure accepted an executive presidential governance system with the April 2017 referendum and the system will come into effect after the upcoming elections. Unlike parliamentary systems, an executive presidential system does not allow coalition governments because in that system the government is already formed as soon as the president is elected. There is no need to negotiate with other parties holding seats in the parliament. Click here for a detailed fact-check of the frequently voiced claims about the 2017 constitutional change of Turkey.