Election board issues voter-friendly regulations for local election campaigns

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published
A street vendor waits for customers near the iconic Galata Tower surrounded by party flags and banners hung for previous local elections, Istanbul, March 6, 2015.
A street vendor waits for customers near the iconic Galata Tower surrounded by party flags and banners hung for previous local elections, Istanbul, March 6, 2015.

The rules determining the campaigning process for the upcoming local elections were announced Friday, with the goal of creating a welcoming election atmosphere for every segment of society

The Supreme Election Board's (YSK) list of election and campaign publicity prohibitions concerning the March 31 local elections emphasized equal, ecological and voter-friendly campaigns.

The YSK's regulations and prohibitions on election propaganda for the upcoming local elections were issued in the Official Gazette on Friday. According to the YSK, political parties and independent candidates will be allowed to begin their election campaign the morning of March 21, while advertising will be forbidden at end of the day before the voting (March 30) at 6 p.m. Media service providers, on the other hand, can broadcast political advertisements from Jan. 1 until March 30.

According to the regulations, mayoral candidates and political parties can use languages and dialects other than Turkish in all of their campaign communications to address various voters from different backgrounds.

During the election campaign, demonstrations will not be allowed in public roads, mosques, other religion-related buildings, public buildings, facilities providing public service and places that district election boards have not designated.

Political parties cannot publicly use vocal and sound-making tools two hours after sunset to avoid disturbing the public peace. Sending an audio, video or text message to email addresses, cell phones or fixed phones of citizens is not permitted except for the parties' own members.

The YSK also pays utmost attention to ensure that campaign communication methods comply with the principles of impartiality, truthfulness, equality and accuracy to prevent voters from being hampered or misguided.

Public opinion polls, surveys or mini-referendums in favor of or against a political party or a candidate that can affect a citizen's vote cannot be distributed in any way, including broadcasting, messaging or expressing orally or in writing 10 days prior to voting day. On other days, the names of survey conducting organizations, the number of participants and sources of funding have to be publicly disclosed for surveys or public opinion polls published or distributed by participants in local elections.

Associations and foundations serving the public interest will not engage in activities that can influence voters' behaviors. The national flag, religious symbols and biased symbolism cannot be used on flyers or other types of printed materials used for propaganda. Political parties and candidates will not be allowed to give gifts and promotional materials or distribute them through third parties or institutions other than those specified.

During the hours of an open or closed meeting of another political party or independent candidate, loudspeakers that can be heard or that disturb the meeting place will not be used for propaganda. Media service providers have to offer the same price for political advertisements of all political parties and candidates.

Ministers and deputies will be prohibited from using their official cars while traveling for election campaigns. Accordingly, official dinners and protocol greetings and farewells will not be held during election trips.

Political parties and independent candidates participating in the elections will be allowed to open election offices in their respective electoral districts. However, tents, caravans, mobile or stationary shacks, trucks, buses and commercial places cannot be used as election offices. Election offices will only be open to the public from 9 am to 11 pm.

In case of violations of the rules of the YSK, authorized institutions, such as the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), the Information Technology and the Communication Board and Access Providers Union can be notified.

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