International observers arrive in Turkey to observe the general elections

MEHMED CAVID BARKÇIN
ANKARA
Published 04.06.2015 16:16

As the June 7 elections draw closer, delegations of international organizations have started to arrive in Turkey to observe the elections. The 29-member delegation of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is the legislative body of Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, arrived in Turkey on Friday. The PACE delegation led by Dutch parliamentarian Tiny Kox will stay in Turkey until Monday, June 8 to observe the conduct of the parliamentary elections. Other than PACE, observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will also observe the general elections.

International parliamentarians are expected to meet with the representatives of political parties participating in the elections, the chairman of Supreme Board of Elections (YSK), representatives of nongovernmental organizations, the Radio and Television Supreme Council and the media before observing the elections on June 7. The delegation, in their pre-electoral declaration, said that the elections appeared to be highly competitive and crucial for political life in Turkey.

Meanwhile, 18 long-term observers from the ODIHR have continued their election observation mission since May 14. During this period, ODIHR observers have followed candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legislative framework and the resolution of election disputes. The ODIHR delegation will also visit a number of polling stations, observe voting, counting and tabulation of the results on election day.

The day after the election, the international observers will issue a statement of preliminary findings and conclusions at a press conference.

Turkey has been an electoral democracy since 1950, and the fairness and freedom of Turkish elections have been praised by international observers. Most recently, in August 2014, the OSCE observed the presidential election in Turkey in which people directly voted for the president for the first time, and praised the elections for being free and fair. "Three candidates, representing different political positions, were generally able to campaign freely, and freedoms of assembly and association were respected in the Aug. 10 presidential election in Turkey," the OSCE statement read, saying: "There is a vibrant political life in Turkey." Likewise, the head of the PACE delegation, Meritxell Mateu Pi, said that the direct election of the president marks the start of a new era in Turkey's democratic development, and that they will continue to work with Turkey and support its efforts in fulfilling the Council of Europe's standards.

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