The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been ruling Turkey as a single-party government since 2002, would have had a nationwide vote of around 29 percent if a general election were to have been held in March, according to a public opinion survey conducted by İstanbul Economy Research.
The survey results, which were announced by Eurasia Public Research Center (AKAM) President Kemal Özkiraz from his YouTube channel, also showed that the AKP’s far-right ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would have received only 6.8 percent in a March election, which is below Turkey’s election threshold.
Turkey has a 10 percent election threshold, which means a party needs to receive at least 10 percent of the national vote in a general election for the opportunity to be represented in parliament.
According to the poll, the AKP, which is back on a downward trend after a brief surge during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, was followed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) at 18.2 percent and the nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party at 12.9 percent.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) stood at 9.3 percent, while former AKP co-founder Ali Babacan’s DEVA has seen its votes reach 2.0 percent and the Future Party (GP) – another political movement that broke away from the AKP and was founded by former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu – received 0.6 percent of the vote.
When undecided voters, who represented 13.8 percent, are distributed among the political parties, the AKP vote rises to 35.4 percent, while the MHP vote increases to 8.3 percent, which is still below Turkey’s election threshold.
The 10 percent threshold, which is much higher than those 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.
AKP Deputy Chairman Hayati Yazıcı on Wednesday announced during a live broadcast on CNN Türk that the ruling party plans to reduce the election threshold to between 5 and 10 percent, a change that might allow the MHP to win seats in parliament without necessarily forming a combined front with AKP.
While MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli is unwilling for his party members to take cabinet positions, he has constantly been lobbying the government to bring the threshold down to 7 percent.
According to a bill drafted by the AKP in line with its ally’s request that has been leaked to the media, the AKP plans to reduce the threshold to 7 percent.
The bill also shows that the AKP has plans to redesign constituencies in a way to increase its number of deputies.
Yazıcı also said they aim to limit the maximum number of deputies from a single constituency to five or seven, as opposed to the number in the current system, which is over 30.
The bill also contains provisions on public funding of political parties. Under the current system, parties with a vote of 3 percent and above can benefit from the grants. The bill brings it up to 7 percent.
“Those parties whose votes exceed the election threshold will be able to benefit from the Treasury grants,” Yazıcı noted.