Bahçeli defends absolute majority requirement upon Erdoğan's call to abandon it

Gov't ally and ultra-nationalist MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on Nov. 21 defended the absolute majority requirement in Turkish presidential elections in response to President Erdoğan’s call to abandon it for a simple majority requirement. Bahçeli said his party was open to negotiations on other issues in the system.

Duvar English

Turkey’s ruling alliance member Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Nov. 21 expressed his support for maintaining the absolute majority requirement in presidential elections. The support followed President Erdoğan’s call to switch to a simple majority requirement.

Bahçeli praised the presidential system Turkey switched to by plebiscite in 2018 and stated it was a necessary feature of the republic in its new century. “The Turkish presidential system is not a single-use, disposable prescription,” Bahçeli said during his party's parliamentary group meeting.   

He added that any hiccups of the presidential system should be revised, but opening its fundamental democratic features could lead to unpredictable problems. 

“We are not electing deputies, mayors, or mukhtars (village and neighborhood heads). We are electing the president,” Bahçeli said, drawing attention to the importance of the position and the necessity of an absolute majority requirement. 

He added that a president should “represent the whole of the nation. Electing the president with 50%+1 of the votes is a form of pluralistic democracy that will set an example for the world.”

The MHP’s staunch stance on the presidential system and the absolute majority requirement in presidential elections remained constant over the years, according to Bahçeli. However, “the party believes modifying the system through collaboration and mutual understanding is possible,” he added. 

Bahçeli also addressed the reporters who have interpreted President Erdoğan’s proposal as a way to “get rid of” Bahçeli and the MHP. “The attempts to insinuate a conflict between the AKP and MHP are despicable and vile,” he said

The MHP leader added that the party did everything in its power to help President Erdoğan’s victory in both the May 14 and 28 elections.

“We remained silent even though we were hurt when Erdoğan came together with an exiled member of the party,” Bahçeli said, referring to the presidential candidate Sinan Oğan who declared his support for Erdoğan on the second round of the elections after receiving 5,17% of the votes on the first round. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 18 put forth his support for switching to a simple majoritarian system in presidential elections by removing the current absolute majority requirement, saying it would be more "efficient." 

The absolute majority requirement seeks more than 50% of the votes to elect Turkey’s president. In the case no candidate obtains the votes necessary, the second round takes place with the top two candidates running. 

In the first round of the 2023 presidential elections, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan garnered 49.24% of the votes, and main opponent Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu remained at 45.07%.

The two candidates faced off in the runoff election on May 28, where Erdoğan received 52.18% of votes and was reelected as Turkey’s President.