Turkey’s opposition said on Thursday new electoral regulations proposed by President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies could open the door to fraud and jeopardise the fairness of 2019 elections. Under a draft law submitted to parliament on Wednesday, security force members will be allowed into polling stations when invited by a voter, a measure the government says will stamp out intimidation by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The bill also grants the YSK High Electoral Board the authority to merge electoral districts and move ballot boxes to other districts. Ballots will be admissible without the stamp of the local electoral board, formalising a decision made during a referendum last year that caused a widespread outcry among government critics and concern from election monitors.
“The proposal has many regulations that remove the open, fair, transparent and democratic tenets of elections,” said Filiz Kerestecioglu, a lawmaker from the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which draws its strength from the southeast.
The government accuses the pro-Kurdish opposition of being an arm of the PKK and says it benefits from voter intimidation. The HDP denies this. The PKK, seen as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and Europe, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state for three decades.