Erdoğan approves new election law amid opposition concern over fraud
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has approved a set of controversial amendments to Turkey’s Election Law and Political Parties Laws, with opposition voices warning that the changes will undermine ballot box security ahead of key elections in 2019.
The 26-article package of changes was published in the Official Gazette on March 16 after being signed into law by Erdoğan. Controversially, the changes allow political parties to form pre-election alliances, while introducing a number of significant amendments to the Election Law.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have expressed serious concerns over the latter, warning that they could put election security at risk.
With the changes, unstamped envelopes will be counted valid while the “relocation” of the ballot boxes will be possible due to “security reasons.” The new law also changes the composition of ballot station committees, appointing senior state officials as the head of the committees instead of representatives of the political parties.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım responded to the questions of reporters travelling with him to Baku regarding these changes.
“We cannot proceed with the old mentalities. All ballot papers are water-marked, meaning there is no need to stamp them. We have tried to persuade our people to use e-signatures. There are still those who want to see the stamp in order to feel sure the state is there. This is a classical statist mentality. Science and development have now prevailed over this kind of thinking,” Yıldırım told.
Recalling similar discussions over “unstamped” envelopes that took place after the constitutional referendum in 2017, and also the fact that the opposition wanted to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Yıldırım said: “People have launched these discussions out of fear of losing the upcoming elections… In my eyes, Turkey holds some of the fairest and most transparent elections in the world.”
“It’s really unjust to cast a shadow over the elections,” he added.
‘Boycotting polls means losing them’
Yıldırım noted that some CHP lawmakers have “only” called to boycott elections over changes in the law because they have no hope of victory.
“Well they have deep experiences. They have lost nine elections so far. ‘We’ll lose the next one as well so why bother?’ is their justification. But if you look at the background of those lawmakers who call to boycott elections, you will see they were activists in their university years, protestors and boycotters. They have developed this habit,” he said.
Referring to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement that his party would run in the elections, Yıldırım said: “Because he believes he will win. Hope is the poor man’s bread, isn’t it?”