IHSAN – The election threshold and the AKP

The election threshold and the AKPTurkeyand#39s election threshold is 10 percent. The military generals who staged a coup against the government in 1980 wanted to have a two-party system and also to prevent Islamist, Kurdist and Turkist parties from entering Parliament.

They thought this 10 percent threshold would be helpful.They were thinking of eliminating the probability of coalition governments so that the political party in power would not have to negotiate with Kurdist, Islamist or Turkist parties.

Yet, this has not brought about the intended consequences and what is more, it is currently preventing the healthy functioning of democracy in Turkey. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is happy with this since it takes aantage of this situation the more authoritarian, and probably totalitarian, it gets.

There are more than 50 million voters in Turkey. If a party does not get 5 million votes, it will not put any deputies in Parliament even if it receives 60-70 percent of the votes in an electoral district, province or a region.

Initially this helped the Kemalist establishment to prevent Kurdists from entering Parliament. But the Kurdists have had coalition agreements with some bigger parties and were nominated in their lists or entered the electoral race as independents.

Thus, we have had always Kurdist deputies in Parliament for the last two decades.At the moment we have around 30 such deputies who do not hide their admiration for the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK).

They nominated their party leader, Selahattin DemirtaI, as a presidential candidate last August, and he received more than 9 percent of the vote as a result of the support he received from the Turkish left. In the forthcoming general elections they are planning to enter the race with their party, and most probably they will be able reach the 10 percent threshold.

The Turkist nationalists generally get between 10-15 percent of the votes, so the threshold has not been able to hinder them What about the Islamists? Well, their rebranded party has been in power for the last 13 years, and they may continue for another four or five years. Their previous party — the Welfare Party (RP) — was able to receive more than 20 percent of the votes, and we had an Islamist prime minister in 1996-1997.

Turkey has also had several coalition governments after 1980. At the moment there are more than 80 political parties in the country.

So, the generalsand#39 plan has utterly failed.Nevertheless, because of the threshold, out of the current 88 political parties, according to the polls, only four of them have a chance to enter the Parliament: The Kemalo-Islamist AKP, the Kemalo-leftist Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), the Kemalo-Turkist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Kurdist Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP).

Actually, the HDP is also latently Kemalist in terms of its methodology. So, in relation to the other three, it is Kemalo-Kurdist.

But I will not try to explain that right now. Perhaps some other time.

As I have explained, the HDP will enter the race and may get 30-50 deputies. The CHP will not be able to increase its votes since it has a sort of glass ceiling at 25-27 percent.

Unless it dispenses with Kemalism and its Kemalist, secular nationalist members and transforms itself into a true social democratic party that appeals to practicing Muslims, working class people, Kurds and the middle classes, it will not be able to get 35-40 per cent that it could easily get.The MHP seems to not want to increase its votes, and under Devlet Baheliand#39s leadership, it will never increase its votes unless something extraordinary happens with the Kurdish problemAs a result, the voters who are fed up with the AKP do not have a proper party to vote for They do not want to waste their votes by voting for small parties since they are not sure if these parties will pass the 10 percent threshold.

In other words, some AKP voters have been chained to the AKP against their wishes because of the threshold.As a result, despite its mistakes, failures and tremendous corruption — as confessed by Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIluand#39s chief aiser Etyen Mahupyan — the AKP easily receives more than 40 percent.

That is why it insists that it did not make the 10 percent threshold law and asks why it should be changed. This is of course stupid logic.

Most AKP voters are so hypnotized by the charismatic caliph-sultan, Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, that they will not be bothered by these minute details.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman