Ankara, July 15 () - Parliament held elections for three vacancies on the board of the country’s media watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) winning a seat that the four political parties were divided on concerning its selection method.
RTÜK consists of nine members elected by parliament: previously, five nominated by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), two by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and one member each by the MHP and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
As of July 14, three members’ terms expired: two AKP members and one MHP member. In the new composition of the board in relation with the new parliament of the June 7 election, the AKP had been set to hold four seats.
One member was to be elected from each the AKP and MHP. Candidates from the MHP and HDP, which have an equal number of parliamentary seats, would compete for the third seat.
The MHP got a higher percent of votes than the HDP in the June 7 election, although they later received an equal number of seats, creating controversy about the allocation of the last vacancy. Eventually, Parliament Speaker İsmet Yılmaz threw the ball in the court of a plenary session to decide on the allocation process.
At the July 14 plenary session, Deputy Parliament Speaker Naci Bostancı declared that the third member would also be elected by the assembly from MHP and HDP candidates.
CHP and HDP deputy parliamentary group chairs asked for the selection of the third RTÜK spot by lot, arguing that doing otherwise would be non-constitutional. Yet, both the AKP and MHP objected to the proposal.
Eventually, MHP’s candidate Arif Fırtına won the third seat, raising speculations that he was supported by AKP deputies.
RTÜK is the supervisory body for broadcasters, overseeing compliance with media regulations, or the legal requirement for all broadcasters to ensure “impartiality, truthfulness and accuracy.”
Especially since Turkey’s August 2014 presidential elections, RTÜK has been the center of criticism by international organizations, arguing that its partisan appointment, including campaign coverage, results in a lack of independence.
RTÜK also nominates the general director and administrative board members of the public broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).