The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has submitted a draft bill to abolish the 10-percent election threshold as a reaction to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) joint legislation move for election alliances.
“All discussions on alliances indicate that in order to ensure a right system of representation in parliament the electoral threshold should be abolished immediately,” read the draft bill submitted to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office on Feb. 23.
The CHP’s move came after the AKP and MHP submitted a 26-article legislative package that stipulates extensive changes in the election and political parties’ law in order to make pre-election alliances possible.
The CHP criticized the package arguing that the changes would cause political parties with a small constituency to lose representative power in parliament, eventually giving rise to a “two-party system.”
“Abolishing the electoral threshold could promote a just representative system that would prevent small parties from seeking alliances with big parties in the first elections to take place following the illegitimate system change approved by the April 16  referendum,” the bill read.
The CHP has reiterated its objection to the amendment charter, which was approved by the April 2017 referendum and is set to be fully implemented in the 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections.
The CHP has argued that the recent political crisis can only be tackled by “strengthening parliamentary democracy and the principle of separation of powers, ensuring the superiority of law, enforcing regulations to limit [the authority of] the presidency within the boundaries defined by the parliamentary democratic system.”
The main opposition is also preparing to resubmit a draft law on “strengthening parliamentary democracy,” which was presented to Parliamentary Speaker’s office in March 2017.
“Five different legislative proposals aimed at strengthening parliamentary democracy have been waiting [in parliament] for a year. [They] regulate 86 different articles including the abolishment of a threshold, representation of citizens abroad and basic principles of elections and financing of political parties,” CHP Deputy Group Leader Özgür Özel said.
Özel also stated that the main opposition supports allowing parties to enter parliament, “even those with one lawmaker,” rather than seeking alliances “as a supplementary.”
“We want none of the parties to be supplementary, all parties will be freed from this electoral problem,” he said.
“Those who want to form an alliance can join an alliance and pass the electoral threshold, following the example of the MHP, who have jumped on the back of their big brother’s bicycle, while those who want to enter elections can enjoy representation in parliament even with only one lawmaker,” Özer said.
Erdoğan defends alliance
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded to the opposition’s criticisms of the legislative change, stating that “alliances are for the benefit of the nation.”
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 20 argued that the AKP’s alliance plan would usher in a coalition government, the type of administration that the AKP has previously criticized when citing its preference for a “strong stable one-party rule.”
While the CHP highlights the contradiction, Erdoğan has argued that the opposite is true. “When the president has single-handed authority over the executive, we will never allow the problems [of coalition governments] experienced in the past to happen again. That era is closing with God’s will,” Erdoğan said, referring to the constitutional change that will grant sweeping executive powers to the president-elect.
“For this reason, we need not fear forming an alliance or feel any reluctance as the AKP,” he added.