New law could lower electoral threshold: AKP

New law could lower electoral threshold: AKP

New law could lower electoral threshold: AKP

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is working on a new election law that includes reducing the 10-percent electoral threshold, AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal said on Nov. 9.

“We will present our work to the party leader [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan]. Our views will also be shared with the public. Political parties will discuss the proposed measures before a final decision is reached,” he said.

Ünal also said that the AKP has discussed this possibility before.

“This is nothing new. We made the call to negotiate [the election laws] in 2012. There was no response to the call we made that day. We will share our thoughts with the public when the consultation process within the AKP is complete,” he added.

The debate heated up on Nov. 7 when Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli made a statement about the current electoral threshold.

He said the 10-percent threshold was too high for Turkey and needed to be lowered, stressing that political parties should reach a consensus in order to decide on the new quota.

“The MHP is not worried about the 10 percent threshold. But the possibility of staying below the threshold puts pressure on society,” Bahçeli told a group of reporters.

Meanwhile, MHP Deputy Chair Semih Yalçın said that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had correctly understood Bahçeli’s statement regarding a lower electoral threshold.

Yalçın also said that MHP was a political party that could feel the pain of a 10-percent threshold.

“We had to make an alliance to counter it [the 10-percent threshold]. You should remember the alliance in 1991, and in 2002 we fell short of the threshold. We feel that pain,” he added.

Yıldırım said that if political parties proposed reducing the electoral threshold, the proposal should be negotiated on Nov. 8 while he was in Washington for an official visit.

Yıldırım also added that his party had made no pledges regarding the electoral threshold.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel has said that the electoral threshold in Turkey should be abolished entirely in response to Bahçeli.

“How long has the 10-percent threshold weighed on Turkey? Does it weigh on the MHP now that the MHP has dropped below the threshold, according to the latest election surveys? The threshold should be zero. Any party that passes one percent should have representation in parliament,” he said.

On June 7, 2015, Turkey held parliamentary elections to elect 550 members to parliament.

The MHP increased its 2011 share by 3.2 percent, gaining 28 seats and winning a total of 16.3 percent of the votes. Meanwhile, the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) received a total of 13.1 percent of the national vote, pushing it well above the minimum 10 percent threshold to achieve representation in parliament.

This resulted in 80 seats each for the MHP and the HDP and marked the first time a Kurdish issue-focused party gained formal representation in Turkey’s parliament. Candidates of the HDP’s predecessors had run as independents in previous elections in order to avoid the 10-percent election threshold.

In the snap elections on Nov. 1, 2015, called after a coalition government was unable to be formed, both the MHP and HDP lost a significant amount of votes, receiving 11.9 percent and 10.8 percent of the vote respectively.