PM says election threshold may be lowered if ‘yes’ vote emerges from referendum

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım meets Foreign press members at the Çankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey on March 9, 2017. AFP

In a move that signaled a change in the attitude of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government toward Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said the election threshold may be lowered if a constitutional reform package is approved in a referendum scheduled for April 16.

If approved, the reforms will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey, strengthen the president and weaken the Parliament.

Speaking to media representatives at a meeting at the Çankaya Palace on Monday, Yıldırım said: “With the new system, stability willalready havebeen achieved at the ballot box [with the election of the president]. So there will be no sense in retaining the measures in Parliament aimed at maintaining stability. The election threshold might be lowered. We have certain models in mind, but we need to talk about them with the political parties if a ‘yes’ vote comes out of the referendum.”

Turkey has long been criticized for having a high election threshold, but the AKP government has so far turned a deaf ear to calls to reduce it, claiming that it should remain in place for stability and prevent the return of the weak coalition governments of the past.

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