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Tag: elections

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Council to EuropeHuman Rights DefendersReports

Letter to European authorities about Turkey elections

We submitted our letter to the European authorities expressing our concerns about the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey.

The letter expresses our concerns about the elections to be held on May 14, 2023. It has been sent to the following authorities:
Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Council for Democratic Elections of the Venice Commission.

An election with unprecedented importance is forthcoming in Turkey. The next Turkish presidential and parliamentary election will take place on 14 May 2023. Besides the debate about whether Erdogan can be a candidate under the Turkish constitution[1], numerous worrying allegations about the credibility of the elections are frequently being raised in these last days, with less than 50 days before the elections.

As a matter of fact, the German government believes that it is difficult to speak of a fair and free electoral environment in Turkey because of the anti-democratic steps taken in the run-up to the elections[2]. In recent years, Erdoğan has gained unprecedented control over Turkey’s institutions, from the courts to the central bank, and has repeatedly used those powers to manipulate the electoral system in his favour[3]. In March 2022, Erdogan changed the country’s electoral laws in a way that could politicize the oversight of vote counts[4]. Furthermore, all current members of the Supreme Electoral Board were appointed by Erdogan himself[5]. Remembering the fact that the Supreme Electoral Board cancelled the 2019 mayoral election for Istanbul at the request of the ruling AKP, makes Erdogan’s influence over the board more worrying.

Frank Schwabe, head of the PACE Election Observation Mission to Turkey, does not believe that Turkey can ensure democratic environment during the election period[6]. He emphasized the recent reports of the different authorities in the Council of Europe revealing that Turkey is sliding away from the values of a democratic society.

Fraud allegations in Turkish elections are not new at all. In the last elections, the referendum in 2017 and the general election in 2018, allegations of voting fraud in polling stations were brought to the fore by many national and international organizations that were actively monitoring the elections. Opposition parties and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticized the results of the referendum because of the validation of 1.5–2.5 million unstamped ballots by the Supreme Election Board[7]. In addition to legalizing unstamped ballots, the relocation of ballot boxes could also enable the AKP to manipulate results to its benefit—together with other means such as reconfiguring the ethnic makeup of some predominately Kurdish southeastern regions and the use of intimidation. As highlighted in the report of the International Crisis Group, these ballot box relocations can potentially discourage voters who may be reluctant to travel to a neighbouring village associated with a rival Kurdish clan[8]. A. Hunko, German parliamentarian, who was in the election observation mission of the Council of Europe, affirmed that he had been detained by the police in southeastern Turkey and he had never experienced this situation in his previous 15 such missions across the world[9]. He clearly said that the referendum in 2017 was not a free or a fair election. The forensic analysis demonstrates the veracity of allegations on the systematic and highly significant statistical support for the presence of both ballot stuffing and voter rigging[10].

Cevheri Guven, an exiled journalist in Germany, likewise claims that 2,5 million ballots without stamps had been added and admitted in the last presidential election. Above all, he continues to say that there is a strong probability that Erdogan can do the same thing in this election. In his YouTube video, which reached 1 million views in 2 days, He explains in detail how the ballots would be stolen during the elections[11].

Overall, Human Rights Solidarity calls on the relevant authorities of the Council of Europe to take the necessary measures to ensure that the next presidential and parliamentary elections take place in accordance with democratic standards. 

Sources: 

[1] Article 101 of the Turkish Constitution clearly affirms that “…The term of office of the President is five years. A person may be elected President of the Republic at most twice.”. Erdogan have been already elected twice. Hence, whether he can be candidate is very questionable. Academics in constitutional law insist that he cannot be candidate under the constitution.  (Anayasa hukukçuları: Erdoğan yeniden aday olamaz – DW – 19.01.2023)

[2] Berlin: Türkiye’deki seçim sürecinde adil bir ortam yok – DW – 22.03.2023

[3] Defeating Erdoğan: Turkey’s opposition searches for a champion | Financial Times (ft.com), 4 mai 2022

[4] Defeating Erdoğan: Turkey’s opposition searches for a champion | Financial Times (ft.com), 4 mai 2022

[5] (54) ERDOĞAN’IN KOZU: AHMET YENER ÇETESİ – YouTube

[6] Berlin: Türkiye’deki seçim sürecinde adil bir ortam yok – DW – 22.03.2023

[7] OSCE/ODIHR Limited Referendum Observation Mission Final Report, Warsaw, 22 June 2017, available at https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/6/2/324816.pdf

[8] https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/76656 , 21 June 2018

[9] Videos Fuel Charges of Fraud in Erdogan’s Win in Turkey Referendum – The New York Times (nytimes.com), 18 April 2017

[10] Klimek P, Jiménez R, Hidalgo M, Hinteregger A, Thurner S (2018) Forensic analysis of Turkish elections in 2017–2018. PLOS ONE 13(10): e0204975. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204975

[11] (61) ERDOĞAN SEÇİMİ BÖYLE ÇALACAK: BÜYÜK İFŞA – YouTube