Gov’t refutes foreign criticisms after election board scraps Istanbul vote results
The Turkish government has called on the international community to “respect” a decision made by the election watchdog to cancel the Istanbul polls lost by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stressing it will “not accept politically-motivated criticisms,” in a statement following a harsh statement by the European Union.
“Everyone should respect this decision that was made in accordance with the law. We do not accept politically-motivated criticism by some of our foreign interlocutors regarding this decision and the Supreme Election Council [YSK],” read a written statement issued by the Foreign Ministry late May 6.
“Turkey has proven its democratic maturity. The decision of the independent Supreme Election Council aims at ensuring the manifestation of the will of the electorate without any doubt,” it said.
The Foreign Ministry’s remarks came after a statement by EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
Describing the context in which the decision to cancel the Istanbul polls was made as highly politicized, the EU officials said, “Ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process is essential to any democracy and is at the heart of the European Union’s relations with Turkey. It is important that the Istanbul election boards can carry out their work in an independent, open and transparent manner, and in compliance with international election norms and standards to guarantee the full credibility of the election process.”
The expressed their expectations from the Turkish authorities to extend their invitation to international observers to monitor the re-run elections.
“The decisions by the Supreme Election Council to declare elected mayors and members of municipal councils ineligible to assume office in the south-east of Turkey - even though their candidacies had been checked and validated before the elections - and to give mayoral mandates to the candidates who got the second highest number of votes, go against the core aim of a democratic electoral process to ensure that the will of the people prevails,” it added.
“They also undermine the electoral process to which the Turkish people have shown their commitment by casting their votes in very large number as well as Turkey’s commitments as a member of the Council of Europe.”
Council of Europe head comments on polls
In a Twitter message, Council of Europe Secretary-General Thornborn Jagland spoke briefly on the YSK’s decision to re-run polls in Istanbul. “The necessary conditions for free and fair elections must be verified prior to election day – not afterwards. The decision has the potential to severely damage voters’ trust,” he said.