The 2023 parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan took place in an environment that lacked genuine competitiveness and pluralism, and while the constitution guarantees fundamental freedoms, they remain very restricted. Media is tightly controlled by the state, with limited access to the Internet further limiting voters’ right to information. Despite the expressed commitment to make elections more accessible for persons with disabilities, the legal framework does not provide a sound basis for the conduct of democratic elections, and the lack of sufficient regulation of the process caused legal uncertainty. The election administration lacked independence and significant shortcomings were identified in the management of elections. The right to stand remains unduly restricted and candidates did not offer voters genuine political alternatives.
These are some of the main conclusions of the final report on the 26 March elections published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The report offers 20 recommendations to improve the conduct of elections and to support efforts to bring them in line with OSCE commitments, as well as other international obligations and standards for democratic elections.
Key recommendations include:
Introducing standards and training to prevent family and proxy voting, ballot box stuffing and the manipulation of voter turnout;
The introduction of a permanent and centralized voter register which would be regularly updated before elections;
Developing and implementing extensive training for precinct election commission members on closing and counting procedures and further elaborating procedures for tabulation of results;
Ensuring clear separation between the State and electoral contestants;
Guaranteeing the freedom for political parties and candidates to organize their own campaign events;
Allowing media outlets the freedom to pursue their own editorial policies and enabling a more vibrant media landscape with outlets presenting a wider range of viewpoints;
Ensuring that election commissions are independent from the government at all levels and establishing mechanisms to improve gender balance in election administration at all levels.
ODIHR deployed an Election Assessment Mission for these elections from12 to28 March 2023. All 57 countries across the OSCE region have formally committed to follow up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.