İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
Suspicion of irregularities in the April 16 referendum vote have damaged Turkey’s election security and reliability, said Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chair Erol Bilecik, adding that measures need to be immediately taken to ensure judicial independence and neutrality.
Bilecik said the debate over the result in the referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system “damaged Turkey’s good record in this area.”
“Election security is an indispensable element of a well-functioning democracy. Turkey’s good record in this area should not see any change. It was impossible to criticize Turkey’s standards in this area after 1946. Of course, complaints could always be filed to the Supreme Election Board [YSK] or others, but our record was generally good. It is very unfortunate that we have seen this record damaged in one of our history’s most important polls. These doubts will likely end up being more significant than the actual vote itself,” he added at a meeting in the Aegean province of İzmir late on April 20.
The Turkish referendum on the presidency is over but both legal and political debates are continuing, despite the YSK’s rejection of opposition appeals on claims of fraud in the vote count.
Bilecik stressed that measures should urgently be taken to ensure judicial independence and neutrality in Turkey.
“Concerns over judicial neutrality must be addressed. Many rights need to be extended, including the right to fair trial and freedom of expression. Turkey does not deserve any blocks in people’s rights to access the internet and information,” he added.
Bilecik also noted that Turkish people and businesspeople are “quite tired” of the unending election cycle ongoing for the past three years, stressing that Turkey must “immediately focus on realizing key reforms.”