Åsa Lindestams blogg: Groong is writing about Turkey and the Presidential election

söndag 17 augusti 2014

Groong is writing about Turkey and the Presidential election

Presidential candidates in Turkey able to campaign freely, but playing
field not level, say international observers

15:04 11/08/2014 >> POLITICS

Three candidates, representing different political positions, were
generally able to campaign freely, and freedoms of assembly and
association were respected in the 10 August presidential election in
Turkey, international election observers said in a statement issued
today. However, the Prime Minister's use of his official position,
along with biased media coverage, gave him a distinct advantage over
the other candidates, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly reported.

"This first direct presidential election demonstrated that there is a
vibrant political life in Turkey, and the preliminary results show the
potential for a healthy balance in political forces," said Vilija
Aleknaite Abramikiene, Special Co-ordinator who led the short-term
OSCE observer mission. "However, the challenges we have noted,
particularly the imbalanced media coverage, must be overcome to fully
live up to the democratic aspirations of the people."

The Supreme Board of Elections (SBE) and the election administration
functioned in a professional manner, and there was overall confidence
in the quality of the voter register, the preliminary statement notes.
However, the absence of a right to appeal election administration
decisions limits the ability to seek effective judicial remedy in case
of election disputes.

"The presence of political party representatives in polling stations
across the country yesterday is an important oversight mechanism,"
said Åsa Lindestam, Head of the OSCE PA Delegation. "I hope that
citizens and NGOs will also be given the right to observe in the
future, bringing Turkey's dynamic civil society fully into the
election process."

International observers noted that media coverage of the campaign
reflected a bias in favour of the Prime Minister, with major
television stations providing extensive coverage of his campaign and
only limited coverage of other contestants. The imbalance in media
coverage was compounded by the predominance of paid political
advertising for him and by the absence of a clear definition of the
impartiality requirement for broadcasters.

"The direct election of the president marks only the beginning of a
new phase of Turkey's democratic development," said Meritxell Mateu
Pi, Head of the PACE Delegation. "We will continue to work with Turkey
and support its efforts in fulfilling the Council of Europe's

The largely active and peaceful campaign was undermined by the misuse
of state resources, the staging of campaign activities during official
state events and, in some cases, attacks on the campaign of one of the
candidates. The introduction of campaigning in minority languages was
a positive change to the legal framework, although recent election
administration regulations still require that the main language of
campaign coverage and advertising be Turkish. The decision by the SBE
to apply an earlier law than the 2012 Law on Presidential Elections,
thus resulting in a ten-day campaign period, meant that campaigning
was underway for almost three weeks before key campaign regulations
took effect.

"Despite guarantees in the law, this decision of the SBE contributed
to the lack of a level playing field," said Ambassador Geert-Hinrich
Ahrens, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission.
"The delay in applying these provisions and the misuse of state
administrative resources benefited the governing party's candidate."

While the legal framework was found to be generally conducive to the
holding of democratic elections, a lack of clarity and accountability
resulted in inconsistencies in its implementation. In particular,
discrepancies remain between the 2012 law and earlier laws regulating
elections in general. The recent introduction of campaign finance
regulations was a step forward, although these regulations do not
extend to private and party sources of funding or provide for adequate
oversight of campaign financing or sanctions in the event of

In a positive step, the introduction of out-of-country voting gave
nearly three million citizens abroad the chance to vote. However,
active conscripts, cadets and prisoners who have been convicted of
intentional crimes were not permitted to vote.

In the limited number of polling stations visited by the international
observers, election day was generally organized in a professional and
efficient manner, and polling station committees were well prepared
and followed voting procedures overall.

The final report is expected be presented in six to eight weeks.

Source: Panorama.am

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