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New electoral amendments go into effect after hasty approval by Parliament

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A 26-article legislative package that makes it possible for political parties to form election alliances and amends some parts of the Election Law ahead of the 2019 general election was approved by the Turkish Parliament following heated debates and brawls that lasted from Monday evening to Tuesday morning.

The bill was drafted by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). These parties have already announced that they will form an alliance for 2019’s general election as well as the presidential election. The draft of the package was submitted to the Parliament’s Speaker’s Office on Feb. 21.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) criticized the new package and accused the AKP and the MHP of hastily approving it in Parliament at night without attracting much public attention.

The CHP and the HDP are concerned that the new amendments could cast a shadow over the security of the elections.

Thirty CHP deputies held a news conference in Parliament in the early hours of Tuesday. Speaking on behalf of the group, CHP deputy Özgür Özel said the deputies are witnessing a shameful moment in the history of Turkish democracy. He said the AKP and the MHP chose to do this on a Monday, a day when there is no TV broadcast from Parliament, to approve the package.

HDP deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu, who spoke in Parliament early Tuesday morning, said the package is controversial and that the AKP and the MHP insisted on keeping the 10 percent election threshold in the package, which is a legacy of the 1980 military coup.

She said what the AKP and the MHP are presenting as an election alliance is actually deception.

The newly established İYİ Party also criticized the approval of the package from its Twitter account in the early hours of Tuesday.

“To say it openly, the 2019 elections will be the last elections of the Turkish Republic. From then on, there will either be no elections, or a period will begin in Turkey where election results indicate 96 percent or 99 percent support [for a leader] just like in [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad’s Syria or [Abdulfettah] al-Sisi’s Egypt,” said the message on the party’s Twitter account.

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