Report on international election observation in Turkey published

At the invitation of the DEM Party, 125 people from Europe observed the local elections in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan on 31 March. The observation delegation has published a report on their findings.

The election observation delegation from Europe invited by the DEM Party has published a report on its impressions from Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. The report published on Tuesday comprises 14 pages. The introduction reads:

“Local elections were held in Turkey on the 31rst of March 2024. The negative trends characterising the development: internationally criticised undermining of democracy, worsening economic conditions for the vast majority, illegal aggression and occupation of parts of Syria and Iraq, and increasing instability internationally, regionally and locally, described the background for the elections.

In the Kurdish-dominated areas in the Southeast, there has been the most negative situation inside Turkey. After the local elections in 2019, many democratically elected mayors, were deposed by the central authorities, and replaced with trustees. Many politicians and political activists were jailed and otherwise persecuted. All of this was criticised by European human rights authorities and organisations.

In the run-up to this year’s local elections, there were also allegations that there were preparations for illegitimate initiatives to undermine democracy by moving security forces, and registering Turks originally from the West of Turkey as local voters in the Southeast. DEM, the major pro-Kurdish party, therefore took the initiative to invite election observers from Europe as an attempt to counter and expose this and other undemocratic moves.

One hundred and twenty-five election observers came and attempted to observe the elections. This is a report of their findings.


In the course of our election observation, almost all delegations had to contend with intimidation and access bans by the authorities. In addition to some irregular incidents and suspicions of election manipulation through bribery and extortion in several regions, we were able to identify two gross and widespread violations. Firstly, an excessive and intimidating police and military presence in almost all areas. In two regions (Van and Şirnak), repression against the population and the DEM party was also documented in the aftermath of the elections. Secondly, a new strategy to influence the election results through targeted voter transfers of 46.901 state employees, such as police officers and soldiers.

While in previous years the will of voters was undermined through targeted political repression, the imprisonment of elected mayors and the use of trustees, this time state employees such as police and military were now sent to the Kurdish regions to vote. In some cases, these people were registered in the regions over a period of 6 months. In other cases, the process was ad hoc. Masses of males between the ages of 20 and 30 were registered in government buildings such as police stations and spent the night in schools and universities specially cleared for this purpose in the days before the election. The use of security forces to reduce the voting power of the local Kurdish population, other local minorities and especially women can be seen as strategic, as these voter transfers were concentrated in regions where a close election result between the AKP, MHP or DEM party was expected, and the participation of thousands of soldiers could tilt the result.

In our view, this is a gross and deliberate attempt to manipulate the local elections against opposition parties. We would like to draw the attention of the international public to this and urge the official election observation institutions to check the voter registers of affected regions in order to get a final picture.”

The entire report can be viewed here.