Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
“The run-off presidential election held on 28 May offered voters a choice between genuine political alternatives and voter participation remained high, however, as in the first round, biased media coverage and the lack of a level playing field gave an unjustified advantage to the incumbent. The election administration technically managed the election efficiently, but its lack of transparency and communication largely persisted. While the absence of regulation of several aspects of the second round did not provide legal certainty, positively, the Supreme Electoral Council (SEC) issued multiple regulations to remedy some of these legal gaps. In the subdued yet competitive campaign, candidates were able to campaign freely. However, harsher rhetoric, inflammatory and discriminatory language by both contestants, along with the continued intimidation and harassment of supporters of some opposition parties undermined the process. In an environment with restrictions on freedom of expression, both private and public media did not ensure editorial independence and impartiality in their coverage of the campaign, detracting from the ability of voters to make an informed choice.
Election day was generally calm and well-administered. However, instances of deficient implementation of certain procedures, particularly during the vote count, were noted.
On 15 May, the Supreme Electoral Council (SEC) announced the preliminary results of the 14 May general elections. As none of the four presidential candidates obtained the legally required absolute majority to be elected, a second round was set for 28 May between the two top candidates, incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the opposition-supported Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Following the elections, representatives of some opposition parties expressed concerns about alleged election day irregularities, mainly during counting and tabulation, and multiple parties filed numerous complaints and appeals to relevant election bodies. However, no contestant publicly questioned the results that were announced by the SEC. The second round took place in an environment of continued restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression that hindered the participation of some opposition politicians and parties, civil society and independent media in the election process.
The SEC declared the final first round presidential results on 19 May. However, the announcement of final parliamentary results was delayed until after the second round, exceeding the deadline previously established by the SEC. According to the SEC, this was necessitated by the need to finalize the complaints process. The SEC did not publish the relevant decision or inform all stakeholders on the postponement of the announcement, including lower-level electoral councils, in a timely manner. Despite a previous ODIHR recommendation, the SEC did not release results disaggregated per polling station prior to announcement of the final results, missing an opportunity to address public concerns over alleged discrepancies in the tabulated results. These steps undermined the transparency of the results announcement, and voter’s ability to be informed about the process.”