Opposition: Ruling AKP’s intends to change electoral system

Opposition: Ruling AKP’s intends to change electoral system

Emine KART ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition: Ruling AKP’s intends to change electoral system

The AKP’s planned move on the electoral system has nothing to do with democratization, says the MHP’s Oktay Vural. DHA photo

A narrowed constituency system promoted as an electoral reform by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has nothing to do with democratization, all three opposition parties represented in Parliament have said. They say such a system would only work in favor of the ruling party itself.

As part of a “democratization package,” the AKP government is also said to have a “Turkey deputyship” formula to set aside 100 seats in Parliament without the 10 percent threshold, while not having any other motivation or plan for lowering the current 10 percent election threshold, which has constantly been subject to criticism by international organizations as well as the opposition.

“Turkey has a serious democracy problem stemming from majoritarianism, with pluralism not being reflected within the system. The election threshold is the main reason for the majoritarian structure of the system, instead of a pluralistic one, which has been gradually formed over the last three decades,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu told the Hürriyet Daily News July 26, when asked about the government’s plans.

Earlier this week, Tanrıkulu had already stated that a package of reforms that did not reduce the 10 percent election threshold could not be considered a “democratization package,” in response to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who said the government was of the opinion that the 10 percent election threshold should be preserved for political stability in Turkey.

“Taking an action involving a narrowed constituency system would be in favor of major parties like the AKP itself, and it is not ethical as it doesn’t serve pluralistic understanding. It should have instead paved the way for minor parties to express themselves within the system,” Tanrıkulu added.

Such an electoral system change would call for the creation of much smaller constituencies than the current provincial constituencies.

AKP de facto increasing threshold, MHP says

According Oktay Vural, deputy parliamentary group chair of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the planned move has nothing to do with democratization. “The AKP is investing in election tactics to keep from losing more of its power. It is de facto increasing the election threshold via this system and offering itself an opportunity for having more deputies elected with fewer votes.”

Pervin Buldan, deputy parliamentary group chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), said, “The plan is not acceptable since it introduces an even more undemocratic perspective than the current one, which is crippled by the 10 percent election threshold.”

Recalling that their party had already submitted a proposal to Parliament for lowering of the threshold, either to 5 or 3 percent, Buldan added that they had also verbally presented an alternative to the government a few months ago.

“If the 10 percent election threshold remains, then let’s create an arrangement that exempts parties with the highest votes in at least five provinces of Turkey from the threshold,” Buldan said, indicating an expectation the government would heed this proposal to remedy the unfairness stemming from the 10 percent election threshold.