Freedom House: Freedom report accuses AKP of election manipulation

Freedom House, the US government-backed non-governmental organization, released its Freedom in the World report for 2024. According to the report, freedoms worldwide declined for the 18th consecutive year. Political rights and civil liberties declined in 52 countries, while progress was reported in only 21 countries. It was stated that flawed elections and armed conflicts played an important role in the decline in freedoms.

The report listed Turkey, Cambodia, Guatemala, Poland and Zimbabwe among the countries where those in power try to control competition in elections, block political rivals or prevent them from taking office after elections.

Turkey was ranked as the fifth country with the biggest decline in freedoms over the past decade, with a 27 percent drop, and was categorized as “not free”.

The report cited election manipulation as the main reason for the decline in 26 countries, and noted that in Guatemala, Thailand and Zimbabwe, attempts were made to change the election result and prevent winning candidates and parties from taking office.

AKP accused of “long-term manipulation”

Turkey, along with Cambodia and Poland, was ranked as a country where the opposition is not given an equal playing field, and it was noted that the practice of denying equal opportunities to opponents, which is described as the most common form of electoral manipulation, poses a serious threat to democracy and affects the electoral process.

“As a result of long-term manipulation that distorts the competitive field, particularly through the use of state resources and the media, opposition defeats can lead to the perception that an increasingly authoritarian government is in control,” the report said, noting that this pattern is entrenched in Turkey. Pointing out that opposition leaders and journalists have long been subjected to harassment, arrests and criminal prosecutions in Turkey, the report drew attention to the government’s domination of the media and abuse of state resources.
“The focus was on the flaws of the opposition, not democratic shortcomings”

The report noted that in the presidential elections held in May last year, the election went to a second round and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the election by a small margin, yet attention before and after the elections focused on the flaws of the opposition rather than the democratic deficiencies in the country.

“As a result, the failure of opposition forces to win an unfair electoral contest has led to restrictions on freedom of expression and the criminal prosecution of dissidents,” the report continued.