OSCE opens Election Observation Mission ahead of Turkey’s snap polls

The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) formally opened its election observation mission in Turkey on Thursday for snap presidential and parliamentary elections to take place on June 24, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Along with 12 experts based in Ankara, 22 long-term observers will be deployed throughout the country from May 28, OSCE Ambassador Dame Audrey Glover told reporters in Ankara.

Three hundred fifty short-term observers and members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will also join the team immediately before election day, Glover said. On the day after the elections, the mission will issue a statement on preliminary findings and conclusions at a press conference.

The body has opted to increase its number of observers because “it is thought that it will be useful and interesting to have some short-term observers here to observe the whole electoral process throughout the country,” Glover said.

“We have noted the legal framework that has changed and the areas that remain a concern for us. There are also changes in election procedures and vote-counting procedures that will require the presence of short-term observers. In addition to that, some interlocutors have expressed concerns about the election administration, which is one of the reasons we have recommended a larger number of observers,” said Vladimir Misev, an OSCE/ODIHR election adviser.

The ODIHR will issue its final report on the observation of the entire electoral process approximately eight weeks after the end of the observation mission.

The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from Turkish authorities.

During the mission the team will meet with state authorities, candidate representatives and representatives of political parties, civil society, media, lawyers, judges and the international community, Glover said.

On election day observers will monitor the opening of polling stations, the voting process, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

“Our role is to observe the election process and report, not to interfere,” Glover said, adding that the body is not made up of “election police, supervisors or politicians.”

The ambassador said they are not interested in the outcome of the elections but rather in ensuring that the process is transparent and conducted in line with OSCE commitments such as equality, fairness, impartially and secrecy.

“We are absolutely neutral in our approach. Our role is to provide technical assessment of the process. Then it is the role of the society, political parties and the government to decide how to use these recommendations. We are totally impartial and we will let the facts speak for themselves,” she said.

The team will pay particular attention to the voter registration process, candidate registration process, media environment, campaign financing, resolution of complaints and appeals and the work of the election administration and relevant state agencies, Glover added. The participation of women and minorities in the electoral process, along with the implementation of recommendations made by previous observation missions, will also be scrutinized.

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