29 November 2013
Turkey’s top election authority has decided that members of the Cabinet do not have to resign if they wish to run in upcoming local elections, scheduled for March 2014.
The Supreme Election Board (YSK) made its decision at a meeting held on the evening of Nov. 28, when the board reviewed preparations for the local elections.
“We have also discussed the situation of the distinguished ministers. At the meeting which was attended by all members, we have arrived at a principle unanimous decision that they do not need to resign,” YSK President Sadi Güven was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan already announced 10 of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 81 provincial candidates, five of them running in metropolitan municipalities.
CHP slams decision
For now, Fartma Þahin, who was announced Nov. 29 to be running for Gaziantep mayor post is the only Cabinet member that will run in local election. However, Erdoðan has repeatedly indicated that that he may nominate some ministers in the upcoming local elections, which means that a Cabinet reshuffle would be inevitable before March 2014.
The decision by the YSK angered the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), with a senior executive describing it as “a legal oddity.”
CHP’s deputy parliamentary group chair Engin Altay, speaking at a press conference on Nov. 29, recalled the YSK’s decisions could not be appealed. Calling on potential candidates among ministers to resign despite this decision, Altay said otherwise it would not be a fair competition since the ministers would have official protection.
“Ministries offer public services. If a chamber’s president, a club’s president, a public servant, a teacher, a principal and a deputy governor are running in elections after resigning, then, no doubt, ministers should also resign. Perhaps, the AKP [the Justice and Development Party] may discuss this and get the ministers to resign, but this decision by the YSK is a legal oddity,” Altay said.
AKP’s Deputy Chair Mustafa Þentop, meanwhile, welcomed the decision by the YSK. Þentop argued that ministers were in the same situation as lawmakers, thus should not need to resign to run in elections as is already the case for lawmakers.
According to Þentop, the CHP executives’ arguments against the YSK decision were an “example of ignorance.”