Turkey mulls lowering election threshold to 7 pct

Turkey mulls lowering election threshold to 7 pct

One of the most important topics Turkish politics and the political parties have long been discussing is the world’s highest election threshold Turkey has been imposing since early 1980. The military rule in the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état had introduced the 10 percent election barrier in a bid to maintain political stability. Although all the governments in the past 40 years had promised to reduce the barrier, none did it because they were, in fact, benefiting from it.

This is again on the current political agenda. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were working on changes on the Election Law and Law on Political Parties for introducing new changes before the next elections slated for June 2023.

There were recent reports that the AKP and MHP officials had agreed to reduce the election threshold to five percent. But President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan informed that the AKP is in favor of a seven percent threshold and that the MHP also favors it, speaking to the reporters on his return from a two-day visit to Balkan countries, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

He left the door open to further reduce the barrier, but he said: “It can, of course, be discussed, but for now, there is no such thing.” He also stressed that the two parties would continue to be in talks over the changes in these two laws.

Erdoğan did not give further details about the planned moves ahead but stressed that he would continue to be in contact with MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli on this matter and the joint bid to introduce a brand-new civilian constitution.

However, Erdoğan’s lengthy conversation with the reports revealed that the government’s priority will be on another legislation. Technical work is underway against what he calls “digital terror,” Erdoğan stated, adding, “We are determined to fight against ‘terror of lies,’” he said, referring to the oppositional parties, particularly the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“Our friends are conducting a technical study for a new law that will protect the personal rights and data of our citizens, that [ensures] the data in Turkey will remain in Turkey and that will stand against discrediting, defamation, lies and slander campaigns in both traditional and new communication channels,” Erdoğan said.

Works will be completed as soon as possible, and the draft will be brought to the parliament as soon after it resumes its works after Oct. 1, Erdoğan informed. “This issue is important both for our country and our democracy,” he added, emphasizing that the new law will reinforce national security through measures to fight systematic disinformation targeting the Turkish state.

He also stressed that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and others should set full-pledged offices in Turkey so that the government can find legal interlocutors in the case they go wrong. “They will come and exist here with their personnel and other stuff, and in case of any violation, they will pay the fine,” he added.

Erdoğan’s statements prove that the country’s political agenda will be intense and controversial in the coming period.

Serkan Demirtaş,