Turkish lawmakers approve controversial electoral reform

Turkish lawmakers approve controversial electoral reform

Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday approved legislation [materials, in Turkish] modifying electoral regulations, leading to a brawl on the chamber floor as the opposition says the new rules could lead to fraud and undermine the integrity of a slate of polls scheduled next year.

The legislation allows the Supreme Electoral Council to redraw voting districts and move ballot boxes for security reasons. Government-appointed civil servants will run voting booths and police and soldiers will more easily be able to enter voting stations.

The government says such changes are designed to prevent intimidation by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) [BBC profile]. However, opposition leaders see the measures as making the voting system less transparent and as allowing the government to move ballot boxes from opposition strongholds

The changes also allow political parties that form an alliance with a bigger party to win seats in the parliament even if they fall below the national vote threshold of 10 percent. Many believe this will allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s [CNN profile] ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) to run with the far-right Nationalist Action Party, which it has continually worked with.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court to annul the changes that it says will prevent free and fair elections