Turkey’s main opposition CHP pushes for electoral reform


Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a draft bill to remove the 10-percent threshold in the country’s electoral system Hürriyet Daily News reported Friday. The move comes after the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) jointly submitted a 26-article legislative package proposing substantial changes to election and political party laws to allow for pre-election alliances.

“All discussions on alliances indicate that in order to ensure a right system of representation in parliament the electoral threshold should be abolished immediately,” read the CHP’s draft bill, which was submitted to the office of the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament on 23 February.

The CHP opposes the AKP-MHP reform package on the grounds that it could cause political parties with smaller voter-bases to lose representation in parliament and potentially give rise to a “two-party system.”

“We want none of the parties to be supplementary, all parties will be freed from this electoral problem [caused by the threshold],” said CHP Deputy Group Leader Özgür Özel according to Hürriyet Daily News, whose party favours allowing “even those with one lawmaker,” into parliament over their reliance on alliances.

CHP Group Deputy Leader and Manisa MP Özgür Özel. Photo Facebook/Özgür Özel, Aug 2017

“Those who want to form an alliance can join an alliance and pass the electoral threshold, following the example of the MHP, who have jumped on the back of their big brother’s bicycle, while those who want to enter elections can enjoy representation in parliament even with only one lawmaker,” the MP for Manisa said.

The lead opposition believes its proposed reforms are vital for Turkey’s faltering democracy: “Abolishing the electoral threshold could promote a just representative system that would prevent small parties from seeking alliances with big parties in the first elections to take place following the illegitimate system change approved by the April 16 [2017] referendum”.

The party continues to object to the constitutional changes narrowly carried by last April’s referendum, which will be implemented in full at the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.

It has called for “strengthening parliamentary democracy and the principle of separation of powers, ensuring the superiority of law, enforcing regulations to limit [the authority of] the presidency within the boundaries defined by the parliamentary democratic system.”

AKP leader and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his party’s plan, saying “alliances are for the benefit of the nation”. He added, “When the president has single-handed authority over the executive, we will never allow the problems [of coalition governments] experienced in the past to happen again. That era is closing with God’s will” adding that “For this reason we need not fear forming an alliance or feel any reluctance as the AKP”.