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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Council of Europe

In Türkiye's presidential runoff, a competitive campaign continued to be marked by lack of level playing field and media bias, say international observers

Council of Europe

30 May 2023

The second round of Türkiye's presidential election was well run and gave voters the opportunity to choose between real political alternatives, but was characterized by increasingly inflammatory and discriminatory language during the campaign period. Media bias and ongoing restrictions to freedom of expression created an unlevel playing field, and contributed to an unjustified advantage of the incumbent, according to a statement from international observers.

The joint mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) found that although the election authorities introduced some regulations ahead of the first round to ensure the smooth running of a potential run-off, the legislation does not address important aspects of holding second rounds, which has a negative impact on legal certainty and the stability of the overall legal framework.

While candidates were able to campaign freely, supporters of some opposition parties continued to face intimidation and harassment. Inflammatory and discriminatory language was used on both sides, with mutual accusations of collaboration with terrorist organisations.

"The second round of the presidential elections has resulted in a clear winner. Nevertheless, this second round also took place in an environment that in many ways does not provide the conditions for holding democratic elections," said Frank Schwabe (Germany, SOC), head of the PACE delegation. "Türkiye must now implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and, above all, release Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş. In the future, the Supreme Electoral Council must be committed to the greatest possible transparency in order to strengthen trust in the electoral process."

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