Changes in voting procedure against law: International observers

Changes in voting procedure against law: International observers

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Changes in voting procedure against law: International observers

Turkey’s Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) decision to deem unsealed ballots valid in the referendum had lifted significant assurances and that it was against the law, according to international observers. 

Head of the delegations from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held a press conference in Ankara on April 17 to brife their observesations about the referendum process. 

“Late changes in counting procedures removed an important safeguard,” said Cezar Florin Preda, the head of the PACE delegation, referring to a move by the election authorities to allow voting documents without an official stamp.

“The legal framework... remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum,” the delegations said in a a joint statement.

OSCE/ODIHR Delegation Chair Tana de Zulueta said changes in the vote-counting procedure had lifted significant assurances and that it was against the law.

Some of the OSCE observers were not allowed to invigilate the vote-counting process, the observer said. 
Turkey’s referendum took place on an “unlevel playing field,” the observers said, 

 “The two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities. Voters were not provided with impartial information about key aspects of the reform and civil society organizations were not able to participate,” the missions’ statement read.

 “Under the state of emergency put in place after the July 2016 failed coup attempt, fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed,” the statement read. 

The Limited Referendum Observation Mission will release its report on the referendum results within eight weeks.