Turkey's election watchdog on Saturday warned the government and municipalities against giving aids to the poor to attract votes in next month's local elections.
The AK Party, which won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in 2007, says it is the government's duty to help the poor under the constitution's welfare state provisions.
Turkish television showed pictures of state officials distributing refrigerators, washing machines and furniture in Turkey's poor eastern region.
"It is obvious that this aid is aimed at influencing voters' decisions and does not comply with the constitution's article on the principle of freedom and equality of elections," the High Board of Election said in a statement.
The board said political parties, municipalities and others must refrain from trying to influence voters, which was illegal and those found guilty of doing so risked imprisonment.
The global credit crisis has slowed economic growth and caused tens of thousands of job losses in Turkey. The government fears rising youth unemployment might lead to social unrest.
Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2009, 14:36