Main opposition wants ballot hurdle brought down to 3 percent

Main opposition wants ballot hurdle brought down to 3 percent

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Main opposition wants ballot hurdle brought down to 3 percent

Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold has long been a matter of contention. A change in the system could lead to a change in the outlook of Parliament. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has made a bid to open a debate in the Parliament with the aim of reducing the election threshold to 3 percent, from the current 10 percent, with CHP Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu deeming the proposal a test for democracy.

“Voting on whether to put the law on the Parliament’s agenda is also a test day for deputies. This test is a test to distinguish between those who want democracy and peace, and those who do not,” Tanrıkulu said in a written statement released yesterday, while urging the public to supervise the process and take a stance on the side of democracy.

Tanrıkulu defined the threshold as an obstacle in front of democracy and hence called for it to be abolished. He further argued that the threshold hindered a significant portion of the society from organizing and being represented, which obstructed the societal peace, due to the resentment of not being fairly represented.

‘Historic day’

“Tuesday May 28, 2013, will be a historical day for democracy, justice and societal plurality to be reflected on the Parliament. Because the bill on the ‘reduction of the 10 percent election threshold to 3 percent’ we submitted to the Parliament will be discussed in the General Assembly,” Tanrıkulu said.

Another party in the Parliament, the Peace and Democracy Parliament (BDP) is also known to have long criticized the 10 percent threshold, arguing that it blocks the full representation of the people. As a method to bypass this, for the past two elections, the party-led bloc submitted independent candidates, in order to later gather under the roof of the BDP.

A clause in the Constitution is cited as the basis for the controversial 10 percent election threshold. This clause is justified as a way of keeping small parties out of the Parliament, thus not letting the country be governed by unstable coalitions.

“The electoral laws shall be drawn up in such a way as to reconcile the principles of fair representation and consistency in administration,” says the article 67 of the current Constitution.

At a recent meeting of a sub-commission of the Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, held earlier this month, the BDP offered to include a clause which said, “The electoral laws respect the principle of fair representation and no election threshold can be imposed at national and local level.”

This proposal was, however, not accepted by the other parties.