Upcoming local elections in Turkey neither free nor fair says EU-Turkey Civic Commission

By bne IntelliNews March 18, 2024

The upcoming March 31 local elections in Turkey will be neither free nor fair, according to the EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) backed by Kurdish groups.

In a March 13 press release, the EUTCC said: “The local elections are currently making headlines due to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that the upcoming local elections would be his last ever. This is not very credible, especially as the deputy [ruling party] AKP chairman and former justice minister Bekir Bozdag 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. [Main pro-Kurdish party in Turkey] 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.”

The EUTCC—founded in 2004 as “the first international conference on ‘The EU, Tureky and the Kurds’” by Rafto Foundation (Norway), the Kurdish Human Rights Project (UK),

Medico International (Germany) and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales—added that, according to Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) member Necdet Ipekyuz, since the start of the election calendar, Turkish state television TRT News had allocated 1,945 minutes to the AKP and 25 minutes to the main opposition CHP party—moreover, while DEM was allocated zero minutes, 27 minutes of content was against the pro-Kurdish party.

The EUTCC concluded: “Both against the background of experiences from previous elections—PACE [the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe human rights organisation] 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 the 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.”

Related Articles

Despite local elections defeat Erdogan “remains in control” at head of “super-executive regime”, says analyst

Despite his AKP party’s defeat in the weekend’s local elections, Turkish President ... more

Turkish footwear manufacturers step up investments in Uzbekistan’s leather and footwear industries

Turkish footwear manufacturers are stepping up their investments in Uzbekistan’s leather and footwear industries, according to local reports. A $1mn investment in the manufacture of leather, ... more

Shipping companies latest to feel effects of “West’s very tight blockade against Turkey’s banking system", says report

Shipping companies are the latest to feel the effects of “the West’s very tight blockade against the Turkish banking system”, according to a report by Turkish publication Ekonomim. In ... more