Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections on Sunday were held in a “peaceful manner” but without a “level playing field”, MEPs Sergey Lagodinsky and Nacho Sánchez Amor said in a joint statement.
The elections will determine the future of Turkey’s relations with the European Union, said the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee chairman and the EP standing rapporteur on Turkey.
“We acknowledge the peaceful manner in which the Turkish people conducted this process and applaud the high turnout,” they continued. “We regret however that … the elections did not take place on a level playing field.”
The disparity is reflected in the findings of election observation mission led by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the MEPs said.
According to Lagodinsky and Amor, freedom of expression and association “continue to be heavily hindered by the current legal framework and practice” in Turkey.
“We express our hope that the next stages of the election process will take place peacefully and in a democratic manner, and that the authorities will take measures to align the elections with Türkiye’s international commitments,” they concluded.
Observers from the OSCE ODIHR found that voters “had a choice between genuine political alternatives and voter participation was high, but the incumbent president and the ruling parties enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage”.
The election campaign was “characterised by intense polarisation” and marred by “instances of misuse of administrative resources, and the pressure and intimidation faced by one opposition party”, they said in their preliminary report.
“Fundamental rights and freedoms are not fully guaranteed by the Constitution and the legal framework. In practice, freedom of assembly, association and expression are also restricted by legislation, and the independence of the judiciary remains a concern,” observers said.
“The Green Left Party faced widespread pressure, intimidation and arrests of their supporters, which served as a significant obstacle to its equality of campaign opportunities,” they added, and that misuse of public resources “blurred the line between party and State”.