President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cannot accept defeat. After years of tough persecution of any independent voice, media, the judiciary, the academic community to mention just a few of the victims, the authoritarian regime he established didn’t prevent the humiliating defeat in the last municipal elections in the major Turkish cities.
Istanbul was one of them.
Now the Turkish Supreme Election Council decided to re-run elections in Istanbul following extraordinary appeals which contested the initially certified outcome of these elections. The justification for this far-reaching decision, taken in a highly politicised context, should be made available for public scrutiny without delay.
The above development in Turkey provoked farther concerns in the European community.
“Ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process is essential to any democracy and is at the heart of the European Union’s relations with Turkey. It is important that the Istanbul election boards can carry out their work in an independent, open and transparent manner, and in compliance with international election norms and standards to guarantee the full credibility of the election process. In this respect, we expect the Turkish authorities to extend their invitation to international observers, such as the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, to observe the re-run elections,” stated High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
“The decisions by the Supreme Election Council to declare elected mayors and members of municipal councils ineligible to assume office in the south-east of Turkey – even though their candidacies had been checked and validated before the elections – and to give mayoral mandates to the candidates who got the second highest number of votes, go against the core aim of a democratic electoral process to ensure that the will of the people prevails. They also undermine the electoral process to which the Turkish people have shown their commitment by casting their votes in very large number as well as Turkey’s commitments as member of the Council of Europe,” concludes the Statement of the Commissioners.