Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey’s election threshold should be eliminated

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Co-chairperson of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Pervin Buldan has said the country’s 10 percent election threshold should not be lowered to 7 percent as suggested by the ruling party but removed altogether.

“The election threshold is an anti-democratic practice that should not be implemented at all, let alone reducing it to 7 percent. We, the HDP women’s council, are saying that removing the election threshold is necessary for Turkey’s democratization,” Buldan said at a meeting of the council in Ankara on Friday.

Leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli last week confirmed a decision by his party and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reduce Turkey’s election threshold to 7 percent.

The 10 percent election threshold, which is much higher than thresholds in democratic nations, has been a subject of criticism for years for being anti-democratic and an obstacle barring small parties from entering parliament. It was enacted following a military coup in 1980 and has remained 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 has suffered much in the past.

Buldan said the AKP and the MHP were not proposing to reduce the election threshold to ensure a fair representation of political parties in parliament but to keep their own seats.

“But their efforts are in vain. Even if they lower the threshold, change the election laws and get involved in every kind of fraud, your government is collapsing,” said Buldan.

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 MHP, in a downward trend, falling to as low as 36.6 percent from more than 50 percent.

The AKP-MHP alliance received 54 percent of the nationwide vote in the 2018 general election.

The lowering of the election threshold is expected to benefit the MHP, whose public support is not adequate to push it over the current threshold.

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