A report prepared by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe criticises the continuing practice of appointing trustees to replace elected mayors under allegations of terrorism.
The report prepared by rapporteurs Vladimir Prebilic from Slovenia and David Eray from Switzerland will be discussed and voted in Strasburg on Wednesday. The draft resolution relating to this report expressed that the practice by Turkey of appointing trustees to replace elected local authority representatives under allegations of terrorism was “seriously destroying the democratic will of the Turkish citizens and preventing proper functioning of local democracy.”
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe had previously started a monitoring process for Turkey due to violation of the European Charter of Local Self Government. The related committee made its monitoring visit to Turkey in December last year.
It was with some satisfaction that in the report rapporteurs noted the impressive turnout in local elections that took place in 2019 (above 84%), which is one of the highest in the Council of Europe member States and shows a strong interest in local self-government among the citizens.
However, the report also notes a generally degrading situation in terms of local self-government. Rapporteurs express concerns about how little progress has been made in implementing recommendations for the local elected representative’s situation in Turkey. They also criticise the provincial electoral administration’s refusal to grant the required certificates to several winning electoral candidates. The local elections in Istanbul (with the greatest number of voters for a local authority election) were repeated in 2019 after the electoral administration refused to grant the required certificate. The opposing candidate had won in the repeated election, not only as at first with a narrow margin, but with 806 thousand more votes than the AKP candidate.
In the report the national authorities were invited to discontinue the practice of appointing a governmental trustee in municipalities in which the mayor has been suspended, to ensure that winning electoral candidates can effectively enjoy their right to carry out their mandate.
The draft report has also underlined that central government had far too much control over the local authorities and that excessive control and intervention to the decisions of the local authorities was rendering the local governments inefficient.
Other issues criticised in the report include how the central government can take decisions without any consultation with local government, how local authorities have limited powers in determining local taxes and how more than half of local authority’s financial resources are controlled so they are not able to benefit from financial autonomy.