Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold to be kept in place
NURAY BABACAN - Ankara
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not lower Turkey’s 10 percent threshold on entering parliament, party sources have revealed, as a debate on a formal alliance between the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) heats up.
In a Dec. 1 meeting of AKP officials, legal experts and lawmakers on six different election laws, the party decided to rule out any changes to the 10 percent threshold, according to AKP sources.
A demand for a lowering of the threshold had been voiced by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, while the MHP has also stepped up its support for the AKP in upcoming elections, when the system change stipulated by the constitutional amendment shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system fully goes into effect.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the head of the AKP, had last month hinted at a possible election alliance with the MHP to overcome any problems that the latter may experience due to the threshold.
“With 50 percent plus one [vote for the presidency], political stability comes. When we take this into consideration a pre-election alliance could be considered,” Erdoğan told reporters late on Nov. 15.
“This is something that our relevant institutions should work on. It can be assessed and steps can later be taken,” he added.
In the Dec. 1 meeting any action on a formal pre-election alliance between the AKP and the MHP was postponed until further work.
“According to the information I have received from the AKP headquarters, there has not been any technical work carried out [on a pre-election alliance,]” Presidential Spokesperson İbraim Kalın said on Dec. 6.
As current legislation does not allow pre-election alliances, Kalın stressed that such a move would need a change in the election law.
“In technical terms, any alliance before the election or during the election period necessitates detailed, inter-party and inter-headquarters work. Our friends will carry out the necessary meetings and share it with the public through party channels if there is to be such work,” he said.
In the Dec. 1 meeting, AKP deputies are said to have supported the possibility of candidates from the two parties entering the election under the banner of their own parties and then having the alliance reflected on ballot papers. According to the existing law, members from one party have to resign from their party in order to enter an election in alliance.
The AKP is also currently working on amendments to the existing law that allows the closure of political parties, planning additional provisions for the Political Parties’ Law in order to allow criminal investigations to be filed against political party officials. However this provision needs a constitutional change. For this matter the AKP will offer a one-article constitutional amendment to the MHP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Meanwhile, the ruling party also discussed changes to prevent presidential candidates from being a parliamentary candidate at the same time.