SP Senator Kox: Turkish elections largely well ordered, but not the campaign

8 June 2015

SP Senator Kox: Turkish elections largely well ordered, but not the campaign

8 June 2015 At today’s press conference in Ankara, the international observers’ team from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) presented its initial findings regarding Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Foto: SP
The observers’ mission press conference. Senator Kox is on the left of the picture.

At these elections the ruling AK Party of President Erdoğan and Premier Davutoğlu lost its majority, with the biggest gains being made by the left Kurdish party HDP, which managed to surpass by some margin the very high electoral threshold of 10% below which a party receives no representation. Their presence will radically change the relations of power in the new parliament. SP Senator Tiny Kox led the observer team on behalf of the Council of Europe and said that he was happy enough about the way things went on the actual day of the elections. The election campaign which preceded it, however, failed in a number of aspects to meet international standards or comply with national rules. Kox drew attention to, amongst other things, the unacceptable violence directed primarily towards one party, the active role of the President, who according to the Constitution must be neutral, the growing pressure on media and journalists critical of the party which until the elections was in power, the clearly biased TV and radio supervisory body and a performance from the national Electoral Council which was less than transparent.

Kox argued in favour of the substantial lowering of the electoral threshold and the granting of official status to domestic election observers, expressing the hope that the newly-elected MPs would listen carefully to what the Turkish voters wanted and act accordingly.

Below are the main points of the declaration delivered by Senator Kox in Ankara this morning.

I would like to begin by praising the active participation of the citizens of this country, the high turn-out and the broad observations by political parties and citizens’ organisations. These should in the future in my view be given official status.

I would also like to express praise for everyone involved in the count. They have in general ensured a well-organised election day.

And for the political parties, which gave the voters a broad choice in these crucial elections. Here I would like once more to stress that the electoral threshold of ten percent must be substantially lowered as it unnecessarily stands in the way of political pluralism.

Lastly I want to say a word of praise for the participating candidates for their general acceptance of yesterday’s results, which reflect the choice of the inhabitants of this beautiful country.

In contrast prior to election day there were too many elements in the election campaign that did not meet international standards or fulfil national obligations. To name a few of these:

  • unacceptable violence, principally against one party, that put the elections in danger and had as its consequence many woundings and even several deaths;
  • the President’s active election campaign, despite the Constitution stating that he must be impartial and act without prejudice;
  • growing pressure on and intimidation of the media and of journalists critical of the ruling party, by public figures and politicians.

We are concerned about the apparently growing bias in the functioning of the High Council for Radio and Television and the lack of transparency in the functioning of the National Electoral Council. If these were improved it would also increase the confidence people have in the electoral process. I urge them to give this serious thought. The same goes when it comes to clearer rules governing campaign finance.

The Council of Europe, its Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe’s legal experts from the Venice Commission are, just as in the past, more than prepared to help in improving the electoral process to the advantage of the citizens and this country’s democratic institutions.

Now those citizens have spoken by having voted so massively, it’s down to the elected parliamentarians to listen carefully and behave responsibly in order defend the electorate’s will, so clearly expressed yesterday by all those millions of people.

It was an honour and a pleasure to observe these elections for the Turkish Parliament. I thank them for their assistance which enabled us to do our work as well and as objectively as possible. Lastly, a hearty thanks to all of my colleagues in this international electoral observation mission.

You are here