On Thursday, the Turkish parliament approved a law lowering the electoral threshold to 7%. A startling change, now that the Nationalist Movement Party, President Erdogan’s coalition partner, has scored less than 10 percent in recent opinion polls.
The bill is due to enter into force in about a year, indicating that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – whose polls are at their lowest in years – will not push the election forward. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 2023.
The elections for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the ruling coalition led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have been in decline for some time. Even the far-right MHP drops below 10 percent. This has led analysts to suspect that Erdogan will advance the elections before the parties score worse. Lowering the electoral threshold now takes this scenario off the table.
Support for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party dropped from 42.6 percent in the 2018 elections to around 26 percent in November 2021. Support for the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) fell from 11.1 percent to around 7 percent. With the new electoral threshold, the MHP will still be able to retain its seats.
The European Union has called on Turkey for years to lower the electoral threshold. That this is happening now is considered by the opposition as a concession to the MHP. Without the MHP, the AKP does not have a parliamentary majority.
Historic Opposition Charter
“With this proposal, we want to increase the representation of political parties,” said Hayati Yazigi of the Justice and Development Party. The new electoral threshold also means, for example, that the Kurdish HDP will enter parliament. The 10 percent electoral threshold was introduced in 1980 after the military coup, so that the small left and Kurdish parties could not sit in parliament.
In an effort to oust Erdogan, the six opposition parties formed an alliance and announced a new comprehensive plan for governance. He introduced a “historic pact” to restore the rule of law. The coalition, led by the secular Republican People’s Party, aims to replace Erdogan’s presidential system with the old parliamentary system.
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