Commenting on the Opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on the non-appointment of democratically elected candidates and the replacement of three mayors in Turkey, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (19 June 2020):
I thank the Venice Commission for its substantial Opinion. The Commission concludes that the decisions by the Supreme Election Council and the Turkish Ministry of the Interior are incompatible with basic principles of democracy and of the rule of law.
The people in the cities and municipalities concerned have a right to expect that their vote counts and that their elected officials are democratically legitimised.
Now it truly is up to the Turkish Government to refute the impression of politically motivated interference in elections and local democracy. I urge Turkey to consistently implement the Venice Commission’s recommendations and, in the light of this Opinion, to review the numerous other cases of elected mayors being replaced.
Following the local elections in Turkey on 31 March 2019, the Supreme Election Council decided to deny the mayoral mandates of six successful candidates and instead appointed the candidates who came second as mayor. In addition, since August 2019, numerous mayors, particularly in south-east Turkey, who were democratically elected in the municipal elections on 31 March 2019 have been removed from office and replaced by trustees. The European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (the Venice Commission) examined the non-appointment of the six successful candidates and the removal of the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van on 19 August 2019. On 18 June 2020, it published recommendations, including that the six first-placed candidates be recognised as the winners of the elections and the three mayors who were removed from office be reinstated or an alternative solution which respects the will of the voters be implemented.