Sacked Turkish public servants should not be able to vote - ruling party

The deputy leader of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said public servants dismissed from their jobs by government decree should not be allowed to vote, Diken news site reported.

More than 130,000 public servants were summarily dismissed by government decree during two years of emergency rule declared following a coup attempt in July 2016. The government crackdown mainly targeted the Gülen movement, a religious group accused of orchestrating the coup attempt, but also spread to take in other opposition groups.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council last week ruled that mayors elected in the March 31 local elections would not be eligible to take office if they had been previously dismissed from public sector jobs. But the council had allowed such people to stand as candidates. The decision affected four district mayors of the predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The AKP submitted a petition to the council on Tuesday, asking for the annulment of the polls for the post of mayor of Istanbul where opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu was on Thursday officially declared the winner. The AKP’s petition says some members of boards overseeing ballot boxes were dismissed public servants.

“Those banned from the public sector do not have the right to vote,” AKP deputy head Ali İhsan Yavuz said on Wednesday. He said such a ban did not require a decision by a court

The AKP wants a rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election.

Turkish opposition politicians said Yavuz’s statement was an affront to democracy. 

“Shame on you,” said Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an HDP member of parliament. “They are about to suggest them being expelled from citizenship,” he said on Twitter.

Ali Şeker, a lawmaker for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said on Twitter the suggestion meant usurping basic rights. “This is an effort of the AKP to take Turkey to advanced fascism while talking about advanced democracy,” he said. 

According a report by rights group Amnesty International in October, those dismissed did not just lose their jobs, but were cut off from access to their professions, as well as housing and health care benefits, leaving them and their families without a livelihood. Those dismissed include teachers, academics, doctors, police officers, media workers employed by the state broadcaster, members of the armed forces, as well as people working at all levels of local and central government.