Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has extended the tenure of the chairman and six members of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) for one year although their term in office was to expire in January 2019, Turkish media reports said on Friday.
Turkey will hold local elections on March 31, 2019.
The government reportedly took the step to prevent confusion ahead of the local elections considering that the election process begins on Jan. 1, 2019.
“After the beginning of the election process, more than half of the members [of the YSK] would be changed. This would pose a problem considering the 79th article of the Turkish Constitution, which calls for the orderly holding of elections,” according to the AKP.
The AKP included the amendment on the tenure of the YSK members in a small omnibus bill.
The government taking such a move ahead of the local elections has led some to question its real motive as the current YSK members drew widespread criticism in the past for allowing fraud in elections to the benefit of the AKP.
The YSK drew huge criticism from opposition parties when it changed ballot validity criteria and accepted unstamped ballots as valid in a referendum held on an executive presidency in 2017.