A woman casts her vote in a polling station set up by the Turkish Supreme Election Board at a nursing home on March 31, 2019. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Amid moves to disallow democratically-elected officials to fill their posts, Europe's top human rights body called on Turkey to "fully respect" last month's election results "as quickly as possible."
“We call on the Turkish authorities to conclude the procedures for establishing the final results of the local elections in Istanbul as quickly as possible, and, more generally, to implement the decisions taken by the voters," the Council of Europe (CoE) stated
Turkey held local and municipal elections on March 31. There have been calls for a re-vote in some districts after the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) performed better than expected in key races, according to preliminary results.
The CoE said Ankara should adhere with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Congress.
“As stated by the Congress after the observation of the local elections, the democratic choices and decisions of the people, who are the sovereign in any Council of Europe state, have to be fully respected”, Anders Knape, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the CoE, said in the statement.
"The implementation of the will of the voters has absolute priority in democratic systems," he added.
Some winners — primarily from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the southeast — have been told
they are ineligible to hold office because of ties to "terrorist" organizations.
"The local representatives elected on 31 March must be able to exercise their mandate freely," the statement added.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who heads the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has accused
Europe of "meddling" in Turkish affairs.
Knape called for "appropriate resources and fair conditions for the newly elected mayors in the municipalities, regardless of the political party for which they were running.
Races across the country were tight and parties from all sides submitted requests for recounts. The impartiality of the electoral authority was questioned after it approved most recount requests from the ruling parties and few from the opposition.
The HDP said on Wednesday that seven of their winning candidates were denied official recognition and accused the Turkish Supreme Election Council of becoming a “tool for the AKP that has acted against the will of voters."
The AKP lost three key cities – Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir – to CHP per the unofficial results, while taking some significant provinces – such as Agri and Sirnak – from the HDP in the southeast.