Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that Turkey’s electoral commission demonstrated non-transparency in the conduct of Sunday’s elections, and that biased coverage of the elections by state media was a matter of concern.
The delegation of the organization said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s ruling parties enjoy unjustified privileges compared to opposition parties that found themselves in unequal conditions during their election campaign.
These findings were made public by a joint monitoring mission comprising the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
“I regret to say that the organization of the elections lacked transparency, as well as clear bias in the media and restrictions on freedom of expression,” Ambassador Jan Petersen, head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights election observation mission, said at press conference in Ankara on Monday.
Petersen stated that the general election was “mostly peaceful”, although there were a number of incidents, and that the High Electoral Commission worked effectively. The delegation commended the high turnout, noting that it was a clear sign of a “strong democratic spirit”.
The report of the International Election Observation Mission stated that “the process of dealing with complaints at all levels of the election administration lacks transparency, and the published decisions of the High Electoral Commission, as a rule, were not supported by sufficient justification.”
The Supreme Electoral Committee announced on May 28 a runoff between Erdogan and his opposition rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after both candidates failed to win the 50% of the vote needed to win the presidential election. When counting 99% of the ballot boxes, Erdogan with 49.4% of the vote was ahead of Kılıçdaroğlu, who received 44.96% of the vote.
The mission, which included 401 observers from 40 Turkish countries, said the pro-Kurdish Green Left party had been subjected to massive intimidation, without specifying who was responsible. She added, without specifying, that some opposition politicians were subject to restrictions.
The delegation urged the authorities to take concrete steps to ensure an increase in voter turnout in cities hit by the devastating earthquake in southeastern Turkey in February.
The OSCE mission stated that it would pay close attention to the second round of the presidential elections on 28 May.