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.
The new law allows parties to create alliances to help them enter parliament, paving the way for President Recept Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP to band together with its nationalist allies and continue to consolidate power as Turkey moves from a parliamentary democracy into an executive presidency following a 2017 referendum in which voters approved changes to the constitution.
A brawl erupted between nationalist lawmakers and parliamentarians from the main opposition party when the parliament’s deputy speaker announced the voting result, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The legislation allows for security force members to be present at polling stations if they are invited by a voter. The government has said the measure will prevent intimidation from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country.
Lawmakers from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other opposition members have taken issue with the measure, saying the presence of security forces could make the counting of votes less transparent.
Another point of contention is the fact that the High Electoral Board will have the authority to merge electoral districts and move ballot boxes between districts. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party sharply criticized the development, saying the government could move ballot boxes out of districts where the Kurdish party has strong support.