Brawl in Turkish parliament after MPs vote to revamp electoral regulations

Elias Hubbard
March 13, 2018

The Turkish parliament has passed legislation that will alter the country's electoral regulations, sparking criticism from opposition members, who fear the change will undermine the fairness of 2019 elections.

This is while government critics have voiced caution over the law since it grants the High Electoral Board the authority to combine electoral districts and transfer ballot boxes to other districts.

The changes would allow Erdogan's ruling party to enter a formal alliance with the nationalist party, permitting the smaller party to gain parliamentary seats even if it fails to pass the 10-percent electoral threshold.

Following the announcement of the voting result by the parliament's Deputy Speaker Aysenur Bahcekapili on Tuesday, fighting broke out between nationalist legislators and those from the main opposition parties.

The government has defended the new changes as necessary to ensure "electoral security" in Turkey's southeast, citing an insurgency by Kurdish militants in the region.

The bill also states a political party can officially back one another during elections, adding that votes received by the alliance will be counted separately for each party.

Furthermore, the MPs representing each party of the alliance will be decided based on the specific number of votes it gets.

The parties that decide on making an alliance should submit an application to the Supreme Election Council within seven days after the election calendar is announced.

During the overnight marathon session, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supported the 26-article bill that is critical for due election in 2019.

After the polls, an executive presidency giving the head of state more powers approved in a referendum previous year and decried by Erdogan's opponents takes effect.

The overhaul comes about 18 months ahead of the upcoming pivotal elections in Turkey.

The extra powers approved by the referendum vote will mean the scrapping of the position of prime minister and a greatly reduced role for parliament under the executive presidency.

The CHP criticised the presence of security forces at polling stations, which MPs said could be used to make vote counting less transparent.

Meral Danis Bestas, MP of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP), lambasted the haste in the nearly 20-hour session in the parliament.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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