MuMTAZER – Will the election threshold be lifted?

Will the election threshold be lifted?The countrywide 10 percent election threshold is a chronic issue for Turkeyand#39s democracy.When it was introduced by subversive generals in 1982, the threshold was justified by saying it would ensure stability in government.

Imposed as a reaction to political instability in the pre-1980 period, this system was designed in two stages with thresholds of constituencies, allowing the party with the highest votes to be represented in Parliament with seat corresponding to twice of its normal vote. This rate of representation gave the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) the 64-percent representation in Parliament, allowing it to come to power in 2002.

The coalition governments of the 1990s are proof that the election threshold cannot eliminate political instability. The dand#39Hondt system already gives virtually no representation opportunity to marginal parties.

The threshold only serves to prevent pro-Kurdish political parties from being represented in Parliament. The pro-Kurdish political movement bypasses this obstacle by ensuring its members enter elections as independent candidates.

After being elected, these independent candidates join back their party, giving it the possible to constitute a parliamentary group, as was done with the Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP).A complex organization of voters would be needed to ensure that multiple independent candidates are elected from the same constituency.

Aanced planning is required so that voters are mobilized to ensure minimal wasting of votes.If the election threshold is lifted, the HDP will double its rate of representation not only in the southeastern provinces, but also countrywide.

Gains by a party mean losses for others. If the election threshold is lifted, a HDP win will be a loss for the AK Party.

This is the reason why the AK Party sees the Constitutional Courtand#39s potential move to lift the election threshold as a plot that directly targets it. However, its objections expose its hypocritical attitude, as it pretends to defend democracy while enjoying unfair benefits of the election threshold.

The election threshold seeks to limit the pro-Kurdish political movementand#39s representation. So far, it has been implemented completely in a hypocritical manner It has been debated frequently, and virtually everyone has acknowledged it as a wrong practice, but no one has taken any steps to abolish it.

The practice of implementing an election threshold is a striking example that shows how the principle of rule by the majority clashes with the principle of protection of minorities.It was wrong to keep this practice in place for many years.

And it has been impossible for Parliament, which was created based on this wrong practice, to correct it. The Constitutional Court has the power and will to rectify it.

As the Constitutional Court would be inclined to protect the rights of minorities, the likelihood of the threshold being abolished is higher this time. Moreover, conjuncture is very favorable.

The practice of implementing an election threshold is related to one of the aspects of the Kurdish issue that can be settled very readily. If it is lifted, an obstacle that was invented to keep Kurdish voters away from the political system will be removed.

This will make the political environment more amiable and pave the way for a suitable climate for the pluralization of the pro-Kurdish political movement.It will also have a more important consequence.

If the seats in Parliament are distributed in ratios similar to the current layout, the ruling AK Party and the HDP can easily cooperate to amend the Constitution. This is the reason why it is not coincidental that logical integrity is sought between the transition to the presidential system and the settlement of the Kurdish issue by loosening the unitary structure.

This effort is extremely artificial, as like the presidential system, the parliamentary system does not contradict with the tendency towards autonomy. The United Kingdom, as the inventor and strict implementer of the parliamentary system, offers a good example.

Will the election threshold be lifted? If the Constitutional Court opts for sticking to principles of universal law and democracy, it will be abolished, but there is no consensus about these principles. Realistically speaking, the decision will largely rely on political alliances and the interests of various actors.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman