Turkish parliament passes law reducing election threshold to 7 percent

Turkey's parliament on March 31 passed the new election law reducing the election threshold to 7 percent from 10 percent.

Reuters - Duvar English

Turkey's parliament on March 31 passed a law lowering the minimum required votes for a party to enter parliament to 7% from 10%, in a move could reduce the likelihood of early elections this year.

President Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies had presented the draft election law, which included regulations on parliamentary seat distribution in alliances between parties, to parliament on March 14.

The bill was widely expected to become law given the ruling alliance's majority. It is set to take effect in about a year, suggesting Erdoğan - whose opinion polls have touched their lowest in years - could hold off calling an early election.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in June 2023 and the AKP and MHP have repeatedly said they would be held at that time.

However, before the bill was introduced, some analysts had said Erdoğan might want an earlier vote before a possible further slide in the polls, amid economic turmoil and soaring inflation caused by his push for low interest rates late last year and, more recently, the conflict in Ukraine.

Seeking to topple the long-ruling Erdoğan, six opposition parties have formed an alliance and announced a sweeping new governance plan to be implemented if elected.

Analysts have said lowering the threshold was aimed to divide the opposition and earn more seats for the governing parties by luring smaller parties to defect from the opposition alliance.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers submitted separate parliamentary motions challenging the constitutional validity of the new proposal, according to reporting by daily Cumhuriyet. 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker İbrahim Kaboğlu said that the draft law violates the constitutional amendment of 2017.  "Parties do not compete on equal grounds. The current situation is unconstitutional,” he said. 

Support for the AKP has dipped to around 31% from its 42.6% in the 2018 election, according to recent polls that also show MHP support falling to around 7% from 11.1%. Together they hold 333 seats in the 600-seat parliament.