OSCE asks for vote recount in Turkey’s controversial referendum

Michael Georg Link, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), has called for a recount of the votes in a referendum held in Turkey on Sunday, saying that such a move would strengthen the weakening confidence in the election process in the country.

A constitutional reform package that will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey received 51.4 percent of the vote in favor in the referendum. However, the OSCE said on Monday that Turkey’s referendum lacked equal opportunities, media coverage for the contesting sides and international standards for a fair election.

In remarks that appeared in local German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme, Link said he was saddened by the remarks of Turkish government officials who said they would not recognize a report issued by the OSCE regarding Sunday’s referendum.

In a statement on Monday, the joint mission of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said the April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey was contested on an unlevel playing field and that the two sides in the campaign did not have equal opportunities. The OSCE also said Turkey’s referendum lacked  international standards for a fair election.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the OSCE’s report in a statement on Monday and said he would not recognize it. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also slammed the OSCE in a statement on Monday, saying the OSCE’s reflections on the referendum results employ a biased and prejudiced approach and are also denunciatory.  The foreign ministry said it was “unacceptable” to say that the poll fell short of international standards.

Link warned that if President Erdoğan does not cooperate with OSCE, the political situation in Turkey will deteriorate and that this situation will be criticized by other states and organizations.


President Erdoğan has also claimed that OSCE representatives who monitored a referendum held in Turkey on Sunday and criticized the referendum for lacking international standards are actually representatives of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In televised remarks on Wednesday evening, Erdoğan said the OSCE commissioned representatives of the PKK instead of impartial observers to monitor the referendum in Turkey. Displaying some photos, Erdoğan said: “These are representatives of the terror organization [PKK] who were commissioned by the OSCE to monitor the referendum. How can someone holding a PKK flag be objective? This man acting as a rapporteur here is a terrorist. Is it possible to see his report as independent?”

Speaking during an address to his supporters at the presidential palace in Ankara on the same day, Erdoğan criticized the OSCE’s report and said he would not recognize it. “First of all know yourself [OSCE]. We will neither accept nor recognize a report by you. We will continue on our own way.”


Meanwhile, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said the Republican People’s Party (CHP) does not have any right to challenge the results of a referendum held on Sunday at Turkey’s Constitutional Court and that the party will not get any results even if it takes the referendum results to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The CHP, which finds the results of the referendum controversial because the election authority deemed unstamped ballots valid, has announced that it will take the referendum results to the Constitutional Court and even to the ECtHR for cancellation.

Speaking to A Haber, Bozdağ said: “The CHP cannot apply to the Constitutional Court. It does not have such a right.” The minister also said even if the CHP applies to the ECtHR, it will not get any results because the referendum issue is not within the jurisdiction of the ECtHR.

The Supreme Election Board (YSK) rejected petitions submitted by three political parties to cancel Sunday’s controversial constitutional referendum result. Ten out of 11 YSK members voted against the appeals made by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Patriotic Party,  according to a written statement released by YSK on Wednesday.

A package for constitutional change that will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey received 51.4 percent of the vote in favor in the referendum held on Sunday, but some opposition parties have contested the results due to the use of unstamped ballots. (SCF with turkishminute.com) April 20, 2017

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