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HDP polling station representatives detained ahead of Sunday’s vote

Ankara police on Saturday detained seven Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) and Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) officials, including polling station representatives, part of an investigation into the alleged planning of provocative actions during elections on Sunday, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

According to the report, the prosecutor issued 25 detention warrants for party members.

A video leaked on social media on June 13 showed that President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged his party’s local officials to ensure that the HDP remains under the election threshold so that the AKP can achieve a bigger success in the general election.

In his speech Erdoğan says: “Friends, our party organization should work differently when it comes to the HDP. I won’t talk about this outside. I am speaking to you here — why? Because [the HDP] remaining under the threshold means our situation [in the elections] will be better.”

Turkey has a 10 percent election threshold, considered to be too high by the opposition parties. If a party fails to get 10 percent of the national vote in the general election, they lose the opportunity to be represented in Parliament.

The HDP managed to surpass the election threshold in the June 7, 2015 general election as well as the snap polls held in November of the same year. If the HDP cannot make it to Parliament in these elections, the AKP, which hopes to emerge as the first party in the elections, will have more seats in parliament.

Erdoğan also told the AKP neighborhood officials that they needed to work on an individual level in their neighborhoods and to maintain a tight grip over the voters in each area.

“You will get the electoral lists and see who is who. If you do this, I believe it will bring about a very different outcome for us. We are saying maintain a tight grip on them; you will do this,” says Erdoğan, without further elaborating.

After the release of the video, the HDP issued a statement on its Twitter account on Wednesday evening in which it accused Erdoğan of inciting people to commit a crime.

“[Erdoğan] is planning to steal our votes through deception and pressure in order to cause the HDP to remain under the threshold because he knows that if the HDP cannot make it to Parliament, he will win more than 400 seats. Just to prevent this from happening, give one vote to the HDP, one vote to [Selahattin] Demirtaş on June 24,” the party’s statement said.

Demirtaş, the HDP’s presidential candidate, has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016.

Erdoğan has frequently attacked Demirtaş at his election rallies.

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