Genuine choice in Turkish elections, but incumbent president enjoyed undue advantage

Voters had a genuine choice in the 24 June early presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, but the conditions for campaigning were not equal, with the incumbent president and ruling party enjoying an undue advantage, including in excessive coverage by government-affiliated public and private media outlets, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement today.

The restrictive legal framework and powers granted under the ongoing state of emergency restricted freedoms of assembly and expression, including in the media. Nonetheless, citizens demonstrated their commitment to democracy by participating in large numbers in campaign rallies and on election day, the observers said. Election day procedures were generally followed, although important legally prescribed steps were often omitted during the counting and tabulation of ballots.

“Our delegation welcomed the high voter turnout, which bears witness to the wish of Turkey’s citizens to express their will and to their awareness of the crucial character of these elections,” said Olena Sotnyk, Head of the PACE delegation. “We noticed a more intrusive presence of the police in polling stations than in previous elections, which contributed, in some cases, to creating a climate of insecurity, and possibly pressure against the electorate and, on occasion, international observers.”