27 May 2019 10:31

The SEC ruling has tarnished every election that has been and will be held!

This ruling of the 'SEC seven' and its reasons will forever come onto the public agenda not just until 23 June, but at every subsequent election.

Photograph: DHA

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İhsan Çaralan

After sixteen days, the Supreme Election Council (SEC) has announced its “reasoned ruling” on the annulment of the Istanbul election.

It has been greeted by everyone apart from AKP spokespersons and their “parrots” as a freak ruling in which the AKP’s pronouncements have been strung together.

Jurists, politicians and experts in the area have most certainly criticized many aspects of this “historic ruling” of the SEC that will go down as a blot on our political history. This ruling of the “SEC seven” and its reasons will forever come onto the public agenda not just until 23 June, but at every subsequent election. For, with this ruling, the SEC has brought all previous and subsequent elections into dispute by flouting the most basic norms of the law such as the Constitution, statute and case law.

A REASONED DECISION THAT CONVINCES NOBODY

The first twelve pages of the ruling in fact consist of a stringing together of the AKP’s objections. So, it may perhaps be said that the SEC’s reasoned ruling makes as much sense as the words, “Even if nothing happened, something certainly happened” which AKP Deputy General Chair Ali İhsan Yavuz cited by way of grounds for annulment but nobody could make any sense of.

Indeed, our newspaper Evrensel, by drawing attention in its headline yesterday to these words, “Even if nothing happened, something certainly happened” of Ali İhsan Yavuz that will go down as the most nonsensical, meaningless words in our political history, made the most successful criticism of the reasoned ruling, because the reasons that the “SEC seven” relied on to annul the election make just as much sense as Ali İhsan Yavuz’s words!

A journalist who follows politics very closely, Muharrem Sarıkaya of Haber Türk, summarized the reasoned ruling in the title of his article in which he assessed the reasoned ruling: “A reason is needed for this reason!”.

Indeed, SEC Chair Sadi Güven and the other judges who proffered dissenting opinions criticized the reasoned ruling in terms both of the international treaties to which Turkey is signatory, and the Constitution, Election Law and the SEC’s rulings that serve as precedent, as well as contemporary legal norms. And these judges have asserted in a clear language comprehensible to all, “None of the reasons set out in the reasoned ruling was based on concrete evidence that warrants annulment of the election.”

NO SURPRISE THAT THE SEC’S DECISION IS POLITICAL

The SEC, and especially the seven members, three regular and four substitute, on it have been the target of criticism ever since the annulment of the Istanbul election

This criticism is most certainly correct through and through. But if the criticism only goes this far, we will only have seen half the truth.

For, the heart of the issue is not the legal approach of the current judges on the SEC or their excessive embroilment in politics. Coming at it from the opposite direction, the judiciary’s situation is all the more precarious.

It clearly appears in the reasoned ruling that:

1- As has been previously stated countless times in this column, the partisanship within the SEC has reached a stage that will now produce concrete results with the subordination of the judiciary to the executive on the pretext of the 15 July coup attempt.

2- As our friend Kamil Tekin Sürek noted in his article titled “Much ado about nothing” in which he criticised the SEC’s reasoned ruling, it is very closely connected to the removal of supervision of elections from the parties and their being brought under ruling party control with appointed civil servants in regulations the AKP-MHP partnership has made in the past two years.

For, the SEC has thereby been converted into a mechanism that sees itself duty bound to do the ruling party’s bidding rather than a court that adjudicates disputes. And we will undoubtedly see the consequences of this more blatantly in upcoming elections.

WHAT HAS THE SEC’S RULING SHOWN?

So, does this not lead to the conclusion that the AKP will take every election it loses to the SEC and procure a favourable outcome?

It certainly does not. But the AKP, as a party that does not want to be voted out, will from now on dig in its heels even more at every step. But, at the same time, it will be digging in its heels under conditions in which there is an even greater decline in its popular support.

Hence, the ongoing process will unfold as a process that affords greater opportunities not to the AKP-MHP alliance, but rather to the forces in opposition to this most reactionary of alliances

Hence, it will be important to approach elections not as an activity on their own, but as an aspect of a struggle that will break down the resistance of the AKP and the forces behind it.

And, consequently, the task, not restricted to election times, will entail bringing the will of the masses to bear on the ballot box in a way that invalidates the AKP’s objections. An activity informed by an understanding in which electoral integrity is entrusted to popular oversight and not to polling station committees, and the organization this necessitates is made. Political activity, action informed by an understanding that goes beyond voting in elections and is adopted as a means for organising the people and shifting to a mode of struggle that will discourage those minded to win elections through trickery and SEC intrigues presents itself nowadays as an imperative for winning elections, too.

The conditions of the period we are passing through are both highly conducive for channelling efforts in this direction and have clearly invalidated “options” that reduce popular participation in politics to going and voting every five years with no involvement apart from this.

The SEC’s reasoned ruling clearly shows this. This is the most important conclusion for progressive, democratic forces to draw from this ruling.

(Translated by Tim Drayton)