From İstanbul Medical Chamber to Erdoğan: We Demand Respect for Physicians’ Will

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İstanbul Medical Chamber has released a written statement in response to President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hints at possible changes to be introduced to election methods of professional organizations such as bars and medical chambers.

“There are several legal regulations expecting to be concluded at the Parliament,” he previously said and added, “One of them is about setting the structures of bars, medical chambers and the like. We need to restart working on it and bring it to the Parliament as soon as possible.”

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‘They want to reduce the number of delegates’

Releasing a statement in response to these remarks, İstanbul Medical Chamber has indicated that they do not know the details of Erdoğan’s remarks or what kind of preparations are underway.

“However, we hear that there are two primary desires, namely reducing the number of delegates of large chambers and introducing a system of proportional representation,” the chamber has noted.

Sharing details about the current legislation, İstanbul Medical Chamber has stressed that elections in medical chambers are not held by the administrations of the chambers, but by the district election councils as per the Law no. 6023 on Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

Reminding the public that the last amendment to the Article 60 of the above law was made in the AKP era, the chamber has also elaborated on how delegates are elected to the TTB:

“According to the law, 3 delegates are elected for the medical chambers with up to 200 members, 5 delegates for the chambers with up to 500 members, 7 delegates for the ones with up to 1,000 members and 1 delegate for every 1,000 members for the ones with over 1,000 members.”

The number of members and delegates of the TTB and İstanbul Medical Chamber are as follows according to the statement of the chamber: The TTB has 110 thousand members and 486 delegates and İstanbul Medical Chamber has 31,000 members and 37 delegates.

In this context, the chamber has said, “As you can see, while the total number of İstanbul Medical Chamber members is 28.1 percent of the TTB, the number of delegates is 7.6 percent. If the ‘proportional representation’ system suggested by pro-government groups was used in determining the number of delegates, İstanbul Medical Chamber would have 136 delegates.”

‘Elections not done with lists, but with names’

“In elections of medical chambers, not delegates, but all members cast votes,” the chamber has indicated further and underlined that “though physicians prepare ‘lists’ among themselves, the elections are not held by casting these lists to the ballot box, but buy writing down the names of candidates; so, elections are not done with ‘lists’, but with ‘candidates’.”

According to the statement, this method of election enables candidates from different lists to be elected to the councils.

“All in all, elections of medical chambers are held in a completely democratic manner and the election day turns into a feast of democracy for physicians,” the chamber has further noted in its statement.

At this point, İstanbul Medical Chamber has also referred to previous general elections in the country and addressed a series of questions:

“On the other side, as you can remember, the votes without a seal were deemed valid in the referendum on April 16, 2017 and ‘Presidential System’ was adopted with 51.4 percent, thereby legislating that the candidate receiving 51 percent of the votes shall be elected.

“In the elections on June 24, 2018, AKP Chair Tayyip Erdoğan was elected with 52.6 percent of the votes. (In 2004, he was also elected the Metropolitan Mayor of İstanbul with 25 of the votes.)

5 questions from İstanbul Medical Chamber

“While it is ‘normal’ that the chair of a political party is elected President with 52.6 percent of the votes and rules the country, why is it found disturbing that the physicians elected with 70 percent of the votes administer their own occupational organizations?

“If ‘proportional representation’ is such a ‘democratic’ system, why is it not implemented in the administration of the country?

“While parties cannot hold seats in proportion to their votes in either Parliamentary or Presidential system, what is the sense in introducing ‘proportional representation’ to professiınal organizations?

“While physicians can elect candidates from different lists when they want to, what is the aim of imposing ‘proportional representation’?

“Do you know that the candidates of the Democratic Participation Group, which currently administers the İstanbul Medical Chamber, have received 60 to 75 percent of the votes in the last five elections, the votes of your supporters who want to ‘take over the chamber’ are less than 20 percent? We demand respect for physicians’ will!” (EMK/SD)

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