Turkey’s top election body calls OSCE report ‘groundless’

Turkey’s top election body calls OSCE report ‘groundless’

Turkey’s top election body calls OSCE report ‘groundless’

The ballots are being sent to poll centers across Turkey ahead of the Aug. 10 vote. AA Photo

Turkey’s top election body has declared an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) interim report on the country’s state of affairs in the run-up to the presidential election as “groundless.”

“It is not possible to understand the groundless report [by the OSCE] which was prepared in a way to sway public opinion to think that the ‘YSK [Supreme Election Board] is arbitrarily printing ballots,’ [in other words] saying that there is no legislation even though legal provisions are clear,” YSK President Sadi Güven said in a written statement released late Aug. 7.

Güven’s statement came as a response to claims listed in an interim report by the Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM), which was deployed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on July 31.

In its report, the OSCE delegation stated that the ballot order of the presidential candidates was selected by the YSK at lottery and that it had already started printing ballots.

“The YSK informed the OSCE/ODIHR LEOM that the total number of ballots to be printed was 73,849,080. The YSK’s decision on the number of ballots to be issued lacks a clear legal basis,” the delegation said.

However, according to Güven, “the report’s credibility should be questioned,” because it “clearly wrote that the Peoples’ Democracy Party [HDP] couldn’t nominate a representative to the YSK even though it nominated a presidential candidate” and the OSCE delegation “didn’t believe this despite the board informing [the OSCE delegation] that they in fact had a representative.”

The report recalled that four parliamentary parties and groups who received the highest number of votes in the last general election have the right to appoint non-voting representatives to the YSK.

“Though the HDP nominated a presidential candidate, it did not meet the above requirement and therefore could not nominate its representatives to the YSK or to lower election boards,” the OSCE report said.

Güven, however, said the HDP’s representative at the YSK also joined a meeting between the board and the OSCE delegation.

“The delegation didn’t believe us, even though the YSK members introduced [the HDP representative] and showed them a copy of the original assignment letter, [the OSCE delegation still] questioned the matter. While this behavior is both offending and unacceptable, it is also not understood why it was additionally noted in the interim report,” said Güven.

“It is not true to say that decisions made by boards, where political parties representing 95 percent of the electorate, are not open to the public. Furthermore, decisions which set precedent are being posted on the YSK website,” the YSK president also said.

“Despite a previous OSCE/ODIHR recommendation, electoral board meetings are closed to the public and not all regulations and decisions are posted on the YSK’s website or are otherwise publically available. According to the YSK, non-voting party representatives have full access to their documents,” the report said.

Also on Aug. 7, the head of the OSCE’s election observation team in Turkey said their final report will include recommendations for improving Turkey’s election system. The final report will be released within two months after the first round of the presidential elections which will be held on Aug. 10.