CHP leader welcomes possible lowering of Turkey’s election threshold
Hande Fırat - STRASBOURG
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has welcomed a proposal from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli to lower the current 10 percent parliamentary election threshold.
“We do not have any terms for the threshold. It doesn’t matter whether they make it one or five [percent]. But the threshold should be lowered for a healthy reflection of the national will in parliament,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters late on Nov. 8 during a visit to Strasbourg.
His comments came after Bahçeli said the MHP was “expecting a proposal” for lowering the 10 percent general election threshold. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) current majority at parliament is enough to amend the Election Law and therefore lower the election threshold.
Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold has long been criticized and is the highest such threshold in Europe.
The existing Election Law is a product of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup and needs to be fully overhauled through consensus between political parties, CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“If we can get rid of this law, parliamentary elections will be healthier. In order to protect the credibility of parliament we should be able to adopt a system in which the electorate directly elects its own representative, not the one selected by the leader [of a political party]. Parliament will then be able to independently take its own decisions,” he added.
No alliance call from the Good Party
Although there is still around two years to go until the 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections, there has been speculation that the CHP and the Good Party will form an alliance ahead of the vote. However, Kılıçdaroğlu denied claims that Good Party Chair Meral Akşener had proposed such an alliance to him.
“We have not received anything from them directly or indirectly. Political parties run independently in elections,” he said, recalling that current laws do not allow political parties to form such formal alliances.
“[The government] will make a legal arrangement [on the Election Law]. We first have to see this. What do they mean by alliance? It’s not right to make a comment before seeing the drafted law,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
2019 polls: One man vs democracy
The presidential elections in 2019 will take place on two axes, the CHP leader stated.
“It will be between those who are in favor of a one-man regime and those who want democracy. Everyone will vote based on this. Those who are in favor of democracy will work for the protection of the parliamentary system,” he said, while denying that this means he wants to revive the “No” bloc of the April referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system.
“It would not be right to call this a ‘No bloc.’ The 2019 election should rather be seen as a contest between pro-democracy and anti-democracy forces. There are those who now regret voting ‘yes’ in the referendum because of Turkey’s continued distancing from democracy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
On the presidential election currently scheduled for November 2019, the CHP head stressed that each party will “make its own nomination,” while suggesting that the most attention should be paid to the second round, when the two candidates with the most votes will run off if no single candidate can secure over 50 percent in the first round.
Serious concerns at Council of Europe
Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu also touched on his meeting with Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland in Strasbourg.
“We told him that we will defend democracy to the end and that democracy will prevail in 2019, so everyone needs to be optimistic,” he said.
Jagland asked questions about the arrested MPs and journalists and has “serious concerns” on Turkey, the CHP head added.
“Turkey is one of honorable members of the European family and one of the founding countries of the Council of Europe. We are in our home here and can express our views,” he said.
Visit to London
Asked whether he has more trips abroad scheduled, Kılıçdaroğlu said he will hold talks in the United Kingdom between Dec. 5 and 8, meeting main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and EU Minister Alan Duncan, as well as think tanks, journalists and business circles.