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Türkiye elections offered genuine political alternatives, but were marked by unlevel playing field and irregularities

Frank Schwabe
©Council of Europe

The presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey (14 and 28 May 2023) enjoyed a high turnout and offered a choice between genuine political alternatives, according to a report presented today by Frank Schwabe (Germany, SOC) at the PACE plenary session. The Chairperson of the PACE observer delegation welcomed the technically efficient way in which the elections were managed, and the large mobilisation of observers from political parties and NGOs. He also welcomed the lowering of the parliamentary threshold from 10% to 7%.

However, Mr Schwabe's report identified a number of irregularities during the whole electoral process, including a lack of level playing field during the campaign, characterised by misuse of administrative resources, biased media coverage, and restrictions to freedoms of expression and media. It also notes “an overall repressive environment against the opposition”, which aggravated this unlevel playing field. Another issue concerns “the lack of transparency and genuine communication” by the Supreme Electoral Council.

The rapporteur considers that the legal framework, which has substantial shortcomings, “does not fully provide a sound legal basis for the conduct of democratic elections”, pointing out that most of the Venice Commission and ODIHR recommendations – including those related to voter rights and election dispute resolution – have remained unaddressed, as well as numerous rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

PACE is willing to engage with the newly elected authorities to address the shortcomings and issues, within the framework of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure and in close co-operation with the Venice Commission