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YSK sets March 31 as deadline for Turks abroad
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 10 Mar 2011 Thu 10:38 am

YSK sets March 31 as deadline for Turks abroad

10 March 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Turkish citizens residing abroad have to register to vote by March 31 at the latest, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) announced yesterday.

The YSK recently announced the election schedule for the 24th parliamentary term, to be held on June 12. Registration for Turks living abroad begins on Monday. Turkish citizens in foreign countries who are not registered in the voter registration database for Turkish expats will not be eligible to vote. Details on status will be available on March 18 through the YSK´s online system at www.ysk.gov.tr. Applications turned in after 5 p.m. on March 31 will not be accepted by Turkish embassies and consulates.

Turkish citizens residing in Turkey will be able to register to vote March 18-31. Voter information forms will be prepared and mailed to voters on April 24. The deadline for political parties to announce their finalized list of candidates is April 29. June 5 will mark the start of election campaigning on radio and TV stations.

Turkey has millions of citizens abroad, particularly in Europe. The YSK recently rejected a government request to have Turkish expats cast their votes at the Turkish embassy or consulate in their host countries. This has caused much anger on the part of Turks living overseas as they will now have to travel to customs gates at the Turkish airport closest to them to cast their vote. Many do not bother.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the YSK decision, saying, “They scored one against me.” His Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is very popular with Turkish voters in Europe. AK Party Deputy Chairman Salih Kapusuz said the decision was the result of deliberate attempts on the part of some political parties and a highly non-constructive attitude on the part of the YSK to prevent voters abroad from casting their votes in the general elections.

Faruk Şen, president of the Turkish-German Education and Scientific Research Foundation, said he strongly condemns the YSK ruling and will respond by showing up at customs gates on the day of the election but not voting.

Şen told Today’s Zaman that Germany had changed its classic resistance to Turks being allowed to vote at the Turkish Embassy or consulates. “There is an open unwillingness to see the votes of 2,440,000 voters reflected at the ballot box. The government should exert serious pressure on the YSK. They can’t act like the 2.5 million voters abroad don’t exist.”

The AK Party’s Bekir Bozdağ explained the government’s frustration with the YSK in a statement last week, noting that there was no legal obstacle to Turkish expatriates casting their votes at consulates. He said it was the YSK’s responsibility to prepare the necessary infrastructure but that it had failed to do so. “The only culprit in this issue is the YSK,” he said.

In fact, the government is so disturbed over the YSK’s decision that it has decided to curb the YSK’s authority. Prime Minister Erdoğan has ordered senior members of his party with a background in law to begin working on a constitutional amendment that would curb the authority of the YSK. The government plans to prepare a new constitution after the elections and include an amendment on the YSK’s powers there as well. There are claims that the government plans to transfer some of the YSK’s authority to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat).

Not: Turkish expats should be able cast their votes at the Turkish embassy or consulate in their host countries.

Edited (3/10/2011) by tunci [added]

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