Leading figures from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have expressed the party’s willingness to press ahead with legislation to reduce Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold.
The election threshold, which is much higher than thresholds in democratic nations, has been the subject of criticism for many years for being anti-democratic and an obstacle barring small parties from entering parliament. It was enacted following a military coup in 1980 and remains in place despite calls to lower it. The AKP has so far ignored the calls, saying it would pave the way for the establishment of coalition governments, from which according to the party Turkey suffered much in the past.
AKP Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş said in televised remarks on Wednesday that the election threshold no longer serves any good in the country because small parties are finding alternative ways to circumvent it.
“Parties are eventually overcoming the threshold by joining alliances. They [members of small parties] are even elected from the lists of other [major] parties. We need to discuss the election threshold issue. I think reducing the election threshold will be beneficial for Turkish democracy,” said Kurtulmuş.
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, who also expressed his views about the election threshold to the Anadolu news agency on Wednesday, said Turkey needs a new Political Parties Law and Election Law, which would further increase participation in politics.
“Do we really need an election threshold now? Stability will be achieved in some way. Will there be a threshold, and if yes, what percent? These issues will certainly be discussed by the parliament. But since stability in governance is subject to constitutional guarantee, I think the election threshold no longer has any meaning,” said Gül.
The AKP’s change of attitude about the election threshold comes at a time when public surveys show support for the AKP and its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in a downward trend, falling to as low as 46 percent from more than 50 percent.
The AKP-MHP alliance received 54 percent of the nationwide vote in the general elections in 2018.
The reduction of the election threshold is expected to benefit the MHP, whose public support is hovering at around 10 percent.
According to reports in the pro-government media, the AKP is aiming to reduce the election threshold to 7 percent.