AKP, MHP may settle for limited change to election law

The ruling AKP and MHP might settle for limited change in the election law as they have not been able to agree on a number of issues that have been initially brought forward. The AKP and MHP executives summarize the current state of negotiations as “The great expectations have been revised.”

Election officials open a ballot box in this file photo.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have not agreed on several issues with regards to their discussion on the election law, which is why the legislation might go through a limited change.

Although the two parties have agreed on lowering the election threshold from 10 percent to seven percent, they have not made a progress with regards to issues such as whether they seek a change in the existing D'Hondt method, which involves proportional representation, or a change in how the heads of the provincial election committees are assigned.

After the opening of parliament, executives of the two parties will come together once again to draft the final version of the election law.

Currently, they summarize the state of negotiations as “The great expectations have been revised.” “There were problems, they were overcome, but we have left the table with incomplete issues,” the AKP and MHP sources have said.

The AKP initially brought forward a proposal to replace the exiting D'Hondt method with a single-member system which divides provinces with more than 18 lawmakers into separate districts. However as such a system would be more advantageous for parties that have a high level of support in the relevant province, the MHP resisted the proposal.

There are also negotiations with respect to the selection of heads of the provincial election committee, who are the chosen among the most senior judges in a province in the current system.

The AKP has proposed that the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) assign the head of the provincial election committee from among the most three senior judges, to which the MHP looks positively. The opposition on the other hand resists such an amendment, saying it might create the perception that the elections are being interfered with.

The new law will also touch on the issue of lawmakers who have resigned from their parties to transfer to a new party. In the current law, a newly established party needs to have at least 20 deputies to join the elections. The AKP and MHP are aiming to block this mechanism in the new law by preventing the transfer of a deputy to a new party for a certain period of time.

The MHP sources have said the biggest change in the work with regards to the election law will be reducing the election threshold to seven percent. They have refuted the opposition's claims of the move being an attempt to “redesign the politics,” saying it was merely undertaken for the purposes of maintaining the “justice in representation.”

The works on changing the election law began after numerous polls showed that the alliance of the AKP and MHP is rapidly losing votes. Decreasing the threshold serves the interests of the MHP, since the party's votes are below the current threshold.

AKP sources previously told Duvar that the lowering of the threshold also aims to prevent additional support given to minor parties, referring to the votes cast for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the past in order for it to pass the threshold. 

According to the AKP, the HDP receives votes from other parties' bases in order for it to enter parliament in the face of the 10 percent threshold for fair representation and a weaker AKP. The government claims that the HDP's votes would be lower if it doesn't receive support from other parties' voters.