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Far-right party members to replace pro-Kurdish party in monitoring Turkey’s overseas voting

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Turkey’s top election authority has decided that members from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will replace representatives from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on committees that monitor overseas voting in elections slated for May, the Habertürk news website reported on Monday.

According to the Law on Political Parties, representatives of political parties that ranked in the top five in the most recent general election can serve on ballot committees and only those that ranked in the top three are eligible to have representatives on committees that monitor overseas voting.

In the last general election held in June 2018, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP had representatives on overseas ballot committees since they were the top three ranked parties.

However, following the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) decision, representatives of the MHP, which ranked fourth in the 2018 elections, will serve on the overseas ballot committees instead of the HDP in the upcoming elections, Habertürk said.

The board’s decision reportedly came after Kürşat Türker Ercan, the YSK representative of the MHP, an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP, objected to the HDP’s presence on the ballot committees due to the pro-Kurdish party’s recent decision to participate in the election from the lists of another party.

The Green Left Party (YSP) is the party under whose banner the HDP decided to run in the parliamentary elections slated for May 14 in a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.

The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.

Election security has been a significant concern in Turkey, with various issues arising during past elections. One of the main concerns is about the potential political interference in the operations of such electoral institutions as the YSK, which could affect the fairness and transparency of elections. Also, there have been allegations of harassment, intimidation and even violence against opposition candidates and supporters, which can create an atmosphere of fear and undermine the integrity of the electoral process.

There have also been concerns about the accuracy and transparency of voter registration and ballot-counting processes. Some reports have highlighted irregularities in voter registration lists, such as the inclusion of deceased individuals or ineligible voters. Some critics also have raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of electronic voting systems and the potential for tampering or manipulation of electronic votes.

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