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Organisations to Monitor Local Elections

Eight organisations, most of them rights or professional associations, have declared that they will monitor the local elections on Sunday, 29 March, and take not of irregularities.

The Turkish Peace Parliament, the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Confederation of Trade UNIONs for Public Workers (KESK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER), People’s Houses (Halkevleri), and the Federation of Alevis and Bektaşi.

The provinces to be monitored are, mostly in the east and southeast of Turkey: 

Adana, Mersin, Urfa, Şırnak, Hakkari, Siirt, Bitlis, Batman, Van, Iğdır, Bingöl, Tunceli, Elazığ, Diyarbakır, Ağrı, Muş.

The organisations have also listed problematic issues in the pre-election period:

List of voters: According to current laws, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) is supposed to create the voter’s register. However, this year’s list was created by the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate of Population and Citizenship Services, based on an address-based registration system. This has created a dramatic increase in the number of voters shown.

Turkish ID number: Newer Turkish ID cards (8-10 years old) carry a special ID number, which one can also find out separately by computer. On 10 March this year, the Supreme Election Board decided that those people whose ID cards did not carry this number would not be allowed to vote. The NGOs have protested against the fact that this announcement was made only two weeks before the election, thus potentially preventing many people from voting.

Donations handed out: Donation campaigns by public institutions are continuing to violate the principle of fair elections, and are clearly aimed at influencing election results. Although the Supreme Election Board has filed complaints, the campaigns are continuing.

Threats made by politicians: The Prime Minister, ministers and MPs of the ruling party have clearly partaken in a discourse that threatens citizens who do not vote for the ruling party.

Lack of neutrality of province and district governors: Despite their duty to be neutral, some province and district governors have displayed biased behaviour.

East and Southeast: The organisations fear that the political government will use all the facilities of the state to violate the principle of fair elections. During the pre-election period, several party officials and MPs in the area were threatened.

PM Erdoğan’s stance: After the Prime Minister said about the eastern and southeastern provinces that “we will definitely win there”, the behaviour of the civilian authorities and security forces in the provinces has changed.

Unequal media coverage: The media is not granting the same coverage to all the parties entering the elections.

No monitoring delegation: None of the international institutions that Turkey is part of is sending a formal monitoring committee.