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Bill seeking to reduce Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold submitted to parliament

Turkish Parliament

A view from the Turkish Parliament AFP

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have submitted a bill to parliament that seeks to reduce the country’s 10 percent election threshold to 7 percent, Turkish media outlets reported.

The move by the AKP and the MHP, which make up the Public Alliance, comes at a time of declining support for the AKP and with a growing number of public surveys showing the MHP remaining under the 10 percent threshold in a possible election.

Turkey is scheduled to hold presidential and general elections in 2023.

The bill, which would amend the Election and Political Parties Law, is expected to be enacted thanks to the large number of AKP and MHP lawmakers in parliament.

According to the bill, political parties will no longer be required to establish a parliamentary group in order to run in the elections. According to the Political Parties Law, political parties that have 20 lawmakers can establish a group in parliament. Some small parties enlisted lawmakers from other parties in the past prior to the elections in order to be able to compete.

The bill, however, makes it obligatory for the political parties to have finalized their party organizations across 41 out of Turkey’s 81 provinces six months before the elections.

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 suffered much in the past.

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 38 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, which currently stands around 5 percent, according to surveys, is not adequate to push it over the current threshold.

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