Press Statement 13.03.2024

Upcoming elections in Turkey: Neither free nor fair

On March 31, local elections will be held in Turkey.

The local elections are currently making headlines due to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that the upcoming local elections would be his last ever. This is not very credible, especially as the deputy AKP chairman and former justice minister Bekir Bozdağ stated that he could technically run one more time if the parliament called for an early election.

Irrespective of this, irregularities can already be observed in the run-up to the elections. DEM Party filed an objection to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) regarding civilian, military, and police voters who were irregularly moved to Kurdish cities before the local elections – without success. According to the DEM Party, a total of 54,600 military, police and civilian voters moved in 33 regions. Opposition members are arrested almost daily, candidates from the DEM party in particular. According to Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) member Necdet İpekyüz, since the start of the election calendar, Turkish state television TRT News allocated 1,945 minutes to the ruling AKP, and 25 minutes to the main opposition CHP. While the DEM Party was allocated 0 minutes, 27 minutes of content was against the pro-Kurdish party.

Both against the background of experiences from previous elections – PACE reported a lack of judicial review of decisions made by the Supreme Election Council, the misuse of administrative resources and state media by incumbents, and instances of intimidation and harassment targeting opposition parties and candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections in May 2023 – and in the context of the political atmosphere, which is characterised by massive repression and an expansive, belligerent foreign policy, it is clear that the elections are neither free nor fair.

Europe must closely follow the elections. It is important that members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe travel to Turkey from 29 March to 2 April 2024. There are also other observer delegations that can be joined.

In addition to identifying violations of the principle of free and fair elections in accordance with the Protocol 1, Article 3 of the Human Rights Act, it is important to draw consequences from violations. European institutions, especially the Council of Europe, need to be more proactive here.

EU Turkey Civic Commission
Twitter: @EUTCC1
Facebook: Eu Turkey Civic Commission