Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has announced that candidates who were elected as mayors during local polls held on March 31 will not be given the mandate to govern if they were expelled from their public jobs by decrees issued by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016, the Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.
According to the unofficial results of the elections, purge victims were elected as mayors in many districts, but they have not been given the mandate by the district election boards due to the fact that they were removed from their public jobs by the government. Some district election boards asked the YSK what steps they should take regarding these elected individuals.
In response the YSK announced on Wednesday that the mayors who were removed from public jobs by government decrees should not be allowed to serve in office. The board said the candidates who received the highest number of votes after the purge victims should be given the mandate.
The YSK has not yet announced its reasoned opinion for this decision, but it is expected to be the same in the case of a muhtar, or neighborhood head, who was elected but was not allowed to take office because he had been removed from his post by a government decree.
The AKP government removed from their civil servant jobs more than 150,000 people on terrorism or coup charges in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. These people were fired thanks to government decrees during a state of emergency that lasted for two years and granted extraordinary powers to the government.
The YSK decision attracted criticism from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), some of whose elected mayors are purge victims.
Zeyyat Ceylan, the HDP candidate who won the election in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar district by garnering 70 percent of vote, had been removed from his post as a teacher by a government decree. He is being denied the mandate by the YSK to serve as mayor of the district.
The AKP candidate, Hüseyin Beyoğlu, who received 25 percent of the vote, recently applied to the YSK, asking the board to name him the winner of the election, although he received a fewer number of votes, because Ceylan had been removed from his post by a government decree.
According to Beyoğlu, if a person was dismissed from a public job due to “security concerns,” as was cited in the decree, he must not be allowed to return to public duty.