With lower election threshold, AKP and MHP may enter elections separately

The government's plan to lower the election threshold to seven percent has led to claims that the ruling AKP and its election ally MHP will enter the next parliamentary elections separately.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

The government's plan to lower the election threshold from 10 percent to seven percent has led to claims that the aim is to pave the way for the abolishment of the electoral alliance between parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) formed the People's Alliance ahead of the 2018 general elections.

The move ensured that the MHP entered parliament as the voter base of the party split in recent years, leading its support level to fall below 10 percent.

“Unless there is a regulation that includes a change in the alliance system in the last minute, such a change in the election threshold would not mean anything. The biggest advantage of such a move would be to revoke the alliance system,” said an executive of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

The same executive also said that the government might be trying to manipulate the opposition to create the perception that it is not planning for early elections, because it is only after one year following an amendment in the election law that the relevant regulation will be legally valid.

“Unless one year passes by, the election takes place under the current electoral law. This discussion [on the election threshold] might therefore be an attempt to have the opposition overcome by languor [thinking there will not be early elections]. Creating the image that 'We will not go to elections for one year,' they [the govenrment] might then all of a sudden declare early elections,” the CHP executive said.

AKP executives are also of the opinion that the separate participation of the AKP and MHP in the upcoming elections will be for the benefit of both parties as they say such a move might garner more votes for them.

The MHP on the other hand has denied the claims that the plan to lower the threshold to seven percent was because the party's support level was below 10 percent. According to the MHP, the planned move will “empower the justice through representation and make a contribution to the Turkish democracy.”

As for the claims that the AKP and MHP will enter the elections separately, the MHP has referred to them as “speculations.”

There is also an opinion that the separate participation of the AKP and MHP in the elections will help the AKP regain its votes from the Kurdish voter base. But MHP executives reject the idea that the AKP has lost support among Kurdish voters due to the People's Alliance.

“Since we have formed an alliance [with the AKP], it is not the case that AKP votes have decreased in eastern and southeastern provinces, on the contrary, there has been an increase. In the 2019 local elections as well, the number of municipalities in which the AKP increased its voter base in the eastern and southeastern provinces has increased,” said an MHP executive.

As for the decrease in Kurdish votes for the AKP in big cities, the MHP executive said that phenomenon needs to be interpreted within the framework of 'those cities' uniqueness and dynamics.'”

In the 2019 local elections in Istanbul, the AKP saw that it electoral alliance with the MHP backfired on Kurdish voters. Until the AKP’s alliance with the MHP, more than half of the Kurdish voters used to vote for the AKP, not the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

According to MHP executives, there is no possibility of early elections on the horizon. The MHP believes that a decision to go to early elections would make people question the executive presidential system, which came into effect in 2018.

MHP executives have said that when the economy recovers from the pandemic, there will no longer be a discussion on whether the country will go to early elections or not.

AKP executives have similarly emphasized that the elections will take place on time as scheduled for June 2023, saying there is still time until June 2022 to change the election law.