Nergis Demirkaya/DUVAR

Leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have dismissed a proposal by AKP co-founder and former minister Faruk Çelik that Turkey’s president should be elected with a margin of over 40 percent, rather than the current vote threshold of over 50 percent.

Party spokesperson Ömer Çelik said that there “was no such issue on the AKP’s agenda,” while the speaker of the Parliament Mustafa Şentop said that he agreed with the current margin. “There is no need to bring this to the agenda again,” he said.

The debate prompted discussion in opposition circles around recent polls that show that the AKP’s support has dropped to around 40 percent. Bekir Ağırdır of the KONDA polling company said that the AKP’s share of the vote has even fallen to under 30 percent, which would represent the lowest level of support in the party’s 17-year history. 

Polls conducted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also indicate that this may be true. The percentage of those saying that they would absolutely not vote for Erdoğan was 49 percent, while 31 percent of respondents said that they absolutely would vote again for the president. 20 percent of those polled were undecided. 

Opposition parties have become confident that Erdoğan, who will run for another presidential term in 2023, will not be able to achieve the minimum of 50 percent plus one vote, which he easily obtained in the 2014 and 2018 elections. Amid a troubled economy and a series of triumphant opposition victories in the local elections earlier this year, it appears that Erdoğan and the AKP’s dominance is on the decline. 

In Turkey’s current presidential election system, a candidate wins in the first round if he or she receives a majority of even one vote, which is referred to as the “fifty percent plus one vote” system.

“The forty-plus-one idea is impossible. This suggestion would mean that the ruling party has accepted that its vote count has fallen and would establish the perception that the AKP has become weak, which is why they abandoned it right away,” said one politician who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Forty-plus-one is out of the question but other avenues may be pursued.”