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CoE observer responds to AKP: Ballot box, not court, best place to decide elections

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“The ballot box, not the court, is the best place to decide elections,” said Andrew Dawson, the head of an election monitoring delegation from the Council of Europe, responding to a claim by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the judiciary has the final say in elections in democracies.

After an opposition win in İstanbul’s mayoral election on March 31, the AKP objected to the results, submitting complaints to the Supreme Election Board (YSK).

In early May the YSK canceled the results and set a new date for repeat elections.

AKP officials say it was a part of the democratic process, although many critics believe the YSK, a judicial body, is under the influence of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Yesterday, the citizens of Istanbul elected a new mayor in a well-organized and transparent vote, albeit under tense circumstances. The result is very clear. We hope that the freely expressed will of the voters will be respected,” Dawson said on Monday in a written statement.

The delegation consisted of 14 members from 13 European countries who came to monitor İstanbul polling stations during the vote and visited 90 ballot box committees in some 30 districts.

On Sunday the opposition’s Ekrem İmamoğlu consolidated his victory, garnering more than 54 percent of the İstanbul vote in the repeat election.

“Polling stations must be full of voters. It should not be necessary to fill them with lawyers,” Dawson added in the written statement, noting that several thousand lawyers were deployed to polling stations for immediate legal counsel.

The conclusions of the congress observation mission will be discussed at a meeting of the Congress Bureau on June 28 in Brussels and at the meeting of the Congress Monitoring Committee on July 3 in Oslo.

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