ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, the Parliament of Turkey approved a set of changes to election laws paving the way for a power-sharing deal between the government and ultranationalists, causing fears of electoral fraud among the Kurdish and secularist opposition.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) submitted the bill comprising of 26 articles.
MHP and AKP brought the bill to a vote at the national assembly in the late hours of Monday, a time the state TV’s channel airing debates at the Parliament is off.
Changes allow the two sides to ally in the local, parliamentary, and presidential elections set for 2019, meant to secure a victory even if one of the parties fails to pass the 10 percent electoral threshold—the highest in the world.
They have been in negotiations for several months now.
The package gives power to Ankara-appointed provincial administrators to merge electoral districts, move a ballot box to another location, and take mobile boxes to homes of those disabled or sick.
People in the same residential building will be able to cast their votes in different boxes in the same district.
It also lets voters use ballot papers without official stamps, and call security forces, police, and gendarmerie into polling stations.
Ballots cast with stamps on the logos of two parties in an alliance will also be counted.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) accused the government of trying to lay claim to voters’ will.
During a convention of his party’s lawmakers, HDP’s new Co-leader Sezai Temelli said amendments were creating ambiguity that would enable authorities to engage in fraud in favor of the MHP-AKP alliance.
Temelli raised questions about taking ballot boxes to homes and letting people of the same apartment vote in different locations, implying heightened risks of fraud in such cases.
Secularists Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the government was putting elections’ safety and accuracy at risk.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany