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Strasbourg, The Supreme Board of Elections SBE is acting in an efficient and transparent manner and, seemingly, in full compliance with the letter of the law. Some legislative amendments introduced sincealbeit not yet all-encompassing, have paved the way for a better and more transparent electoral process. At the same time the media, while generally believed to be free, are reportedly applying self-censorship for fear of falling victim to a broad interpretation of the anti-terrorist legislation.

The candidate registration process, even though carried out in accordance with the letter of the existing legislation, has resulted in a situation where a of candidates were initially denied registration, a decision promptly reversed by the SBE with regard to some of those candidates after a public uproar. This is a clear indication that the relevant legal basis is in need of further improvements. In addition, the application of the relevant legislation must be carried out in good faith. Reports of growing tension, violence, harassment, imprisonment and detention of Kurdish opposition supporters, including elected officials, and a loss of life in the east and south-east of the country give rise to grave concerns.

We call upon all political stakeholders to refrain from acts of violence.

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Overall, it is widely believed that while the elections will be free, their fairness is open to improvement, not least given the unequal conditions for the contenders. In this regard, the ten per cent threshold, by far the highest among the Council of Europe member states, remains the central issue that limits the representative nature of the legislature.

We expect Turkey to take corrective action and stand ready to extend assistance as needed. We hope that the forthcoming 12 June elections will be held democratically, in an orderly, peaceful and non-violent environment. It held meetings with the Chairman of the SBE, representatives of political parties running in this election and the EU Ambassador to Turkey, as well as a representative cross-section of civil society and the media.

PACE observers will return to the country with a member delegation to observe the 12 June elections. The electoral process was generally characterized by pluralism and a vibrant civil society. Voting and counting observed on Election Day showed a mostly calm and professionally-managed process. Some elements of the legal framework continue to constrain activities of the media and political parties by limiting freedom of speech.

The 10 percent threshold for political party representation in Parliament — the highest in the OSCE region — remains one of the central issues that limit the representative nature of the legislature. For the first time, contestants were allowed to buy political advertisements.

Political parties are granted free airtime in the final week of the campaign on the main state-owned public television channel; additional airtime is granted to parties proportionally based on votes received in the last elections. Independent candidates do not qualify for free airtime and opposition parties claimed that they receive ificantly less coverage in Turkish media compared to the governing party. The registration of political parties and independent candidates offered voters genuine choices.

Government control over influential media groups allegedly resulted in biased reporting and self-censorship, but journalists and NGOs said business interests also limit media freedom. Observers noted the detention and ongoing investigations of more than 50 journalists in Turkey, some linked to alleged connections with an attempted coup.

Limiting freedom of the media is a violation of the Copenhagen Document and a host Council of Europe documents. On 2 May the Turkish Constitutional Court amended the Press Law to extend the statute of limitations for filing criminal cases against journalists from two months to eight years. This ruling has been cited by many observers, including the OSCE Rep-preventative on Freedom of the Media, as putting journalists under the permanent threat of criminal law-suits.

Procedures during the elections were generally well organized and conducted in an orderly and professional fashion, even though there were initial problems with the registration of some independent candy-dates.

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The Supreme Board of Elections SBE enjoyed broad public confidence and respect through its transparent, professional and efficient administration of the election. Voters had to present photo identification at polling stations. Transparent ballot boxes were used for the first time.

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However, many stakeholders raised questions about remarkable changes in the of registered voters in recent years, and the printing of a disproportionally high of excess ballot papers. Political parties had sufficient ability to convey their programs to voters. The election campaign took place in a polarized environment. The parliamentary observers welcomed the fact that the stakeholders mostly exercised restraint even if there was heavy police presence and tensions in parts of the South East, as well as isolated reports of physical attacks.

At the same time, many rallies with large crowds of citizens occurred largely free of violence. Most importantly, the election day was overall carried out without violence. The counting observed was done efficiently and in compliance with the existing regulations.

Party representatives and observers had access to the in the polling stations. There is a need to broadly promote more participation and representation of women in the political life of the country. On Election Day, observers witnessed the opening of polling stations, voting and the closing process, including the vote count. Local election officials and poll workers appeared well-trained, polling pro-ceded in a calm and well-organized manner. Turnout was reported at 84 per cent.

The observers were mostly granted access to all levels of election administration and polling stations on Election Day. In order to remove any uncertainty and to comply fully with OSCE commitments, it is desirable that the law specifically allow international observers access to national election proceedings. See related documents Election observation report Doc. The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly, at its meeting on 10 Marchdecided — subject to the receipt of an invitation from the competent Turkish authorities — to observe the parliamentary elections to be held in Turkey on 12 June The Bureau constituted an ad hoc committee for this purpose, composed of 30 members, and authorised a pre-electoral mission composed of five members one from each political group to be carried out approximately one month before the elections.

The Bureau appointed me as Chairperson of the ad hoc committee. On 8 Aprilthe Chairperson of the Turkish delegation to the Assembly, Mr Erol Aslan Cebeci, extended a formal invitation to observe the elections.

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Mr Dronov and Ms Gastl also took part in the pre-electoral mission. Regrettably, the European Democrat Group was not represented due to a last-minute cancellation. The pre-electoral delegation had meetings with the Chairperson of the Supreme Board of Elections SBErepresentatives of political parties running in these elections, and the European Union Ambassador to Turkey, as well as with a cross-section of civil society and the media. The working programme of the pre-electoral delegation appears in Appendix 1. The findings and conclusions of the pre-electoral delegation are reflected in its press statement issued at a press conference at the end of the visit Appendix 2.

The ad hoc committee visited Ankara from 9 to 13 June and had a similar briefing programme Appendix 3. For the briefing programme, the ad hoc committee was ed by an observer delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE.

On the election day, the ad hoc committee split into 16 teams which observed the elections in and around Ankara, Antalya, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir, Trabzon and Van. Altogether, the voting and vote count were observed in more than polling stations.

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The ad hoc committee concluded that the 12 June parliamentary elections in Turkey were, well-managed, democratic and they demonstrated pluralism. However, it considered there is still a need for improvements on fundamental freedoms. The press statement issued the day after the elections appears in Appendix 4.

The ad hoc committee wishes to thank the Turkish authorities, in particular the Turkish delegation to the Assembly, for the support and co-operation given to the ad hoc committee in accomplishing its mission. On 3 Marchthe Turkish unicameral parliament the Grand National Assembly set the date for parliamentary elections for 12 Junein order to elect its members for a four-year term.

The Justice and Development Party AKP gained the largest of mandates — — allowing it to form a majority government and to elect its candidate as President in August Twenty-six independent candidates were also elected, 20 of which represented the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party DTPand formed their own political group.

The remainder of the seats were split among smaller parties and independent candidates.

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The legal framework for the conduct of elections includes the Constitution and a range of special laws. The former was amended in the years following the elections. In addition, provisions related to the disclosure and scrutiny of political party finances were further detailed, clearer regulations on media obligations and the use of printed campaign materials were introduced, parties were granted the right to receive copies of protocols at all polling stations, and the restriction on the use of languages other than Turkish was eased. However, certain restrictive elements that were deemed problematic in the elections have not undergone ificant revision and continue to constrain, in particular, the activities of the media and political parties.

In Septembera referendum initiated by the AKP was held and resulted in the adoption of a of important constitutional changes. While the European Commission for Democracy through Law Venice Commission was not officially asked for its opinion on the proposal, the relevant text was prepared taking into reports and opinions of the Venice Commission. The Venice Commission was asked by the Ministry of Justice to assist in the drafting of the implementing legislation.

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The authorities presented this as bringing the Constitution into compliance with European standards, improving respect for individual and human rights, increasing access of the public to courts, limiting the power of military courts and paving the way for reform of the judiciary.

Opponents of the referendum, for their part, regarded the adopted amendments as a disguised attempt by the governing party to enhance its authority, including over the judiciary. Following the referendum, the AKP announced that it planned to launch the process of drafting the new constitution after the parliamentary elections. The stated intention is to review the Constitution currently in force and to eliminate inconsistencies that have resulted from frequent amendments in recent years.

The authorities have stated that they envisage a broad and inclusive process of public consultations on drafts and plan to seek input from across the political spectrum. In this connection, many interlocutors insisted that the central issue of these elections was whether or not the winning party would gain an absolute majority allowing it to adopt the new constitution without substantive consultations with other political players. The current constitution prohibits the application of amendments to the legal framework one year before elections, which is in full compliance with Council of Europe recommendations.

Voting is compulsory in Turkey. This provision is, however, rarely enforced. In Turkey, elections are administered under the general supervision of the judiciary.

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