Ali İhsan Yavuz, the deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has refuted allegations that the party was planning to abolish the 50 percent threshold criteria required for a presidential election candidate to win the race in the first round.
“A news report published with an assertive title 'Electoral system is changing! 50+1 percent [threshold] is being lifted' is an example of a deskjob journalism,” Yavuz wrote on his Twitter account on May 6.Turkey's ruling party, nationalist ally 'would fail to form gov't if elections were today'
Yavuz's comments came after Yeniçağ newspaper earlier reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the AKP, asked seniors officials to prepare a draft legislation seeking changes to the presidential electoral system during a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on May 5.
Basing its report on backstage rumors, the newspaper said that Erdoğan wants to abolish the current 50 percent threshold criteria, which is necessary for a candidate to win the presidential elections.
In the current system, the presidential election can be held in either one or two rounds. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round, then the election comes to end. But if all of the candidates garner less than 50 percent of the votes each, then a second round is held, with two candidates participating in the race.
If the threshold of 50 percent in the initial round is abolished, then whichever candidate gets the most vote wins the race automatically.
Yavuz however refuted the newspaper's report, saying: “Yeniçağ newspaper has alleged that the AKP's yesterday MYK meeting brought the presidential electoral system to the agenda, discussed it and gave a decision for it to be changed. But, the presidential electoral system was not brought to the agenda in anyway.”EXCLUSIVE - Support for Erdoğan's AKP lowest in 17 years, top pollster says
“The shift to the presidential system is one of our most important and valuable doings which has come into effect with the approval of our nation, against the parliamentary system, which produces chaos, crisis and instability. It is out of the question for us to think going back,” Yavuz also wrote.
Former minister Faruk Çelik in September said that the 50 percent threshold in presidential elections' first round should be lowered to 40 percent. “In the presidential system, a threshold of 50+1 percent at the presidential election will fatigue Turkey. The threshold should be 40 percent,” Çelik said.
Erdoğan was at the time asked what he thought about Çelik's comments and he said that the AKP would not bring such a proposal to the agenda of the parliament, but it is “the job of the opposition.”
Yeniçağ's report comes amid reports that support for the AKP is dropping.
Following a constitutional referendum held in 2017, Turkey made changes to 74 articles in the constitution, giving the president new powers. The amendments meant the president is now the head of state and head of government.
Erdoğan’s oath in the parliament following a national vote in 2018 officially ended the parliamentary system which lasted since 1920 and made Turkey to switch to an executive presidency.