Changes sought in election law aim to compensate for AKP's loss of votes, says HDP

HDP MP Rüştü Tiryaki has said that the new electoral system will serve the interests of not the nation, but the ruling AKP. If the AKP was sincere in “meeting the needs of society,” then opposition parties' opinions with regards to the planned changes would have been listened to, Tiryaki said.

FILE PHOTO: A man casts his ballot for Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections at a polling station in Ankara, Turkey, on June 24, 2018. (Reuters)

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Turkish media outlets have recently reported that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come to finalize its work on drafting the new election law and will soon submit it to Parliament.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Rüştü Tiryaki has said although there is a need to change the election law, the AKP is planning to undertake this “not out of society's needs,” but instead to “compensate for the big loss of its votes.”

“If this was a work to meet the needs of society and the country, then it [ruling AKP] would have solved this problem in cooperation with the opposition parties,” Tiryaki was quoted as saying by Mezopotamya new agency on Nov. 12. Tiryarki is also the co-chair of the HDP's commission responsible for elections.

The AKP and its junior coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) earlier this year floated a proposal to change the election law after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu signalled that a number of CHP lawmakers can quit and join the newly established Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party to secure their run in elections.

To take part in elections, parties must have held a congress and formed a party structure in half of Turkey's provinces or already have a group of at least 20 MPs in parliament - criteria which DEVA and Future Party do not yet meet.

The legislation in progress is not meant to block new parties but rather to prevent a “political manoeuvre” used in the past, AKP officials previously said.

Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki
Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki

Tiryaki said that Turkey's Supreme Election Council (YSK) had conducted a joint work with the participation of all political parties prior to 2015 with regards to planned changes in the electoral system, but that work has been disregarded by the government. If the AKP is sincere in “meeting the needs of society,” then opposition parties' opinions would have been listened to, Tiryaki said.

Tiryaki recalled that the CHP lent 15 deputies for Meral Akşener's İYİ (Good) Party prior to 2018 parliamentary elections so that the latter could get into the elections without the need to complete other formalities written in the election law.

“The AKP fears the newly founded parties; it is obvious that it is going for such a change [in the law] in an attempt to prevent the transfer of deputies from other parties to the newly founded parties,” he said.

Tiryaki also touched upon backstage rumors suggesting that the AKP is considering to lower the parliamentary threshold from 10 percent to five percent. “There are such rumors but there is no draft text regarding that right now. The AKP's base is getting smaller and all public opinion polls suggest that the vote they will receive together with its coalition partner will decrease. They are trying to pull something out of thin hair to prevent that. We should analyze the planned changes in the electoral system in that perspective,” he said. 

Tiryaki also said that there are many lawmakers within the AKP who favor an early election. “This is because many AKP politicians see that the situation will get worse in the next year and afterwards for the party. There are also those who are calling for an early election within the AKP,” he said.