Turkey: Council of Europe observers see free and fair campaign disrupted

An observer mission has rehearsed three weeks before the elections in Ankara. Many interlocutors indicated that the democratic debate was disturbed.

Turkey: Council of Europe observers see free and fair campaign disrupted

An observer mission of Council of Europe has identified maladministration in Turkey before elections. On a two-day visit to Ankara, representatives spoke with parliamentarians, representatives of elected parties, media and non-governmental organisations. In an opinion of mission, it was now said that, under current emergency laws, space for Democratic debates was limited, according to many Turkish interlocutors. Many politicians and journalists were in prison, and freedom of expression and assembly was limited.

Moreover, Turkish media reported less about opposition parties than ruling ACP of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. Equal access to media is, however, a basic requirement for voters to make an informed decision, it was said by electoral Observation Mission, which consists of seven members of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe was composed.

In Turkey, Parliament and President are being re-elected on 24 June. It will be first time that voters will vote on both in same day. President Erdoğan justified prior of elections by saying that it was necessary "to quickly switch to a presidential system because of impending challenges." Turkey has been in a state of emergency since failed coup attempt in summer of 2016. Erdoğan has ever been able to rule by decree. These decrees are not contestable before Constitutional Court. During this period, fundamental rights are also furr restricted.

Observers criticize electoral law amendments

The Council intends to send a delegation of 33 to Turkey on 24 June to observe elections. This is quite common: Parliamentary assembly with members from 47 member States of Council of Europe regularly sends election observation missions. Turkey is also a member of state organisation based in Strasbourg, which monitors observance of human rights.

Following her visit to Ankara, electoral observation Mission also criticised fact that Turkey had made decisive changes to electoral law just before elections. For example, party members may be sent to polling premises as supervisory officers. They are likely to evacuate ballot boxes and use security forces.

The electoral law was amended in March on proposal of Islamic-Conservative ruling party ACP and Allied nationalist MHP. Among or things, votes are now recorded as valid if ballot-board's stamp is missing from envelope. Ballot boxes can also be moved to a different location in case of security concerns.

Constitutional Court confirms amendments to electoral law

According to Election council, ballot boxes in 19 provinces were already published this week. According to state news agency Anadolu 144,000 voters are affected. The Prokurdish opposition party HDP had criticized that ballot boxes were removed mainly from areas where party had great support.

The largest opposition party, CHP, had sued amendments to electoral law before Turkish Constitutional Court. She had argued that changes could favour electoral fraud and had called for annulment of several paragraphs. But court ruled on Thursday that law was constitutionally compliant, as Anadolu reported.

Date Of Update: 01 June 2018, 12:02

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