Turkey's AKP aims to lower election threshold to save MHP, weaken HDP

The AKP seeks to lower the election threshold to save its alliance partner MHP and lower support for the HDP. The AKP thinks that the votes cast for the HDP in order for it to pass the threshold will be eliminated when a lower threshold is implemented.

President Erdoğan poses for a photo before casting his vote in this file photo.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeks to lower the election threshold to ensure that its alliance partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) enters parliament and that support for the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) decreases. 

The AKP has been working on drafting a new electoral law that would introduce a series of new practices that critics say are aimed to make sure President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stays in power. 

The main purpose of the changes that are being worked on in a commission led by AKP deputy leader Hayati Yazıcı is to lower the election threshold in line with the results of the recent polls, which clearly show that the MHP can't pass the current 10 percent threshold. 

"A percentage that will give hope to minor parties and that will prevent additional support to the current ones must be determined," AKP sources told Duvar, referring to the votes cast for the 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. 

"The threshold must be lowered to at least seven percent. The fact that the threshold is high makes it seem like some parties are bigger than they actually are. The voters who plan to vote for minor parties become hopeless, hence they vote for larger parties," AKP sources said, in an apparent reference to the HDP and the support it gets from other parties.

"We don't foresee highly radical changes, but the main issue is lowering the threshold. No one can say 'no' to lowering it," they said. 

The HDP, meanwhile, criticized the AKP's approach and said that their calculations are based on assumptions.

"We'll see what happens at the elections. We'll see whether the HDP will get 7 percent or somewhere between 15 to 20 if the elections are carried out in a democratic, equal and free environment without the threats of closure and pressure," the HDP told Duvar. 

The draft will be shared with the MHP once it's finalized and then will be discussed with other parties, the AKP said.