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Turkey: Congress adopts report on the observation of local elections and the Istanbul repeat mayoral election

Strasbourg, France 30 October 2019
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Turkey: Congress adopts report on the observation of local elections and the Istanbul repeat mayoral election

Meeting in session on 30 October 2019, the members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted a report on the local elections in Turkey (31 March 2019) and the Istanbul repeat mayoral election (23 June 2019), following observation missions led by the Congress. The debate was held in the presence of the Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem İMAMOĞLU.

Presented by Congress Rapporteur Andrew DAWSON (United Kingdom, ECR), the report states that, overall, the two polls were conducted in order and were administered satisfactorily, with a remarkably high turnout. Overall, the polling station commissions (CBV) performed their technical and procedural tasks competently.

However, the adopted recommendation points to several necessary improvements. Apart from the equal playing field for all parties and candidates, the most urgent reform steps include the Supreme Election Council (SEC) of Turkey, against whose decisions no appeal is possible. The Congress calls on the Turkish authorities to clarify the electoral legislation and to harmonise all election laws in order to give them a coherent framework. It also recommends the removal of overly restrictive limitations of freedoms of association, assembly and expression in order to re-establish an environment fully conducive to genuinely democratic elections.

With regard to the situation leading to the renewal of the election of the Mayor of Istanbul, the Congress calls for the revision of the 2018 legal amendments, in particular the regulation on the status of civil servants required for Presidents and Deputies of Ballot Box Committees.

In addition, the Congress calls for strengthening the training of members of polling station commissions, the accuracy of voter lists, and the participation of women in politics. It also recommends the adoption of clear and fair regulations on the conduct of campaigns, in particular the misuse of administrative resources, as well as the revision of anti-terrorist legislation.

"Congress is particularly concerned that mayors elected in the March 31 local elections in the south-east of the country have been denied their terms of office because of previous charges: They were replaced by candidates who came second", said Andrew Dawson. “Furthermore, the suspension of elected mayors took place due to accusations of links to terrorism; they were replaced by officials nominated by central authorities. Both actions run counter to the freely expressed will of voters and the principle of fairness in elections”, he concluded.

** 37th Session of the Congress **

File 37th Session - Agenda - Videos and photos – Mediabox interviews