Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have called for free, fair and transparent elections following their visit to Ankara to assess the election campaign and preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for May 14.
A cross-party PACE delegation, comprising six members and led by Frank Schwabe, chairperson of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, paid a pre-electoral visit to Turkey April 12-13.
In a statement on their visit, the PACE members called on the authorities to “make use of all means to alleviate the effects of polarisation, ensure that these elections are free, fair, transparent and in line with international standards, strengthen trust in the electoral system throughout the country and ensure that the will of the Turkish people will be duly reflected in the ballot box and afterwards.”
The delegation met in Ankara with the presidential candidates or their representatives, the speaker of parliament, the leaders or representatives of the main political parties competing in the elections, Turkish lawmakers, representatives of NGOs and the diplomatic community, and members of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the Supreme Election Board (YSK).
The PACE members underlined the concerns about the logistical organization of the elections in the areas affected by devastating earthquakes in early February and the ability of parties to campaign under the state of emergency in place in these provinces.
In their statement the European parliamentarians noted concerns about the fairness of the electoral process with respect to equal coverage in public media, lack of fair rules governing the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns, recent attacks on the offices of opposition parties, restrictions on the internet and social media, legal proceedings launched by RTÜK against media for coverage of critical views and the transparency of the YSK.
According to the PACE members, a closure case against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has impacted the course of the elections.
Four candidates have qualified to run in Turkey’s presidential election, according to a preliminary list announced by the country’s election authority.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Homeland Party leader Muharrem İnce and Sinan Oğan, the candidate of a bloc of four far-right parties, are the four candidates who have qualified to run in the presidential election.
A full 40-member delegation from PACE will also travel to Turkey in May to observe the voting alongside other international partners, PACE said.