Ruling AKP preparing tiered election thresholds for Turkey

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is working on a new election system that will encourage electoral alliances and introduce new electability criteria, Independent Turkish reported on Thursday.

The new model will keep the 10 percent nationwide threshold, the highest in Europe, and introduce a new threshold of 20 percent to win seats in any given electoral district.

Turkey’s current model has 87 electoral districts, one in each province with an additional six in the four largest provinces. The proposed model will be a hybrid between the current one and the single-member district system used in the United Kingdom.

The new “narrowed-region system,” as the AKP has named it, will allow for a set number of deputies in each district, with 120 districts in total. Parties that do not win at least 20 percent of the vote at the electoral district level will not be able to win any seats in parliament. 

The proposal lowers the electoral threshold to five percent nationwide for alliances.

There were two alliances in the 2018 general elections in Turkey, as AKP joined forces with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and main opposition centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) went into an alliance with centre-right Good Party (İYİP), supported by conservative Felicity Party (SP) and centre-right Democratic Party (DP).  The pro-Kurdish left-wing opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ran on its own.

The AKP has tasked the party’s Political Affairs Chairman Hayati Yazıcı with overseeing efforts for a new electoral system, according to Independent Turkish. The government aims to complete a proposal by September as the new legislative year begins.

Opposition parties have spoken against the proposed changes, saying that they were geared towards stifling diversity and plurality. Some of AKP’s proposals may prevent the recently-founded Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party, led by former AKP heavyweights Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu respectively, from running in upcoming elections.

“It's clear that any legal regulation about political parties is being brought on the agenda to prevent new parties like ours from entering elections," an official from the DEVA Party said in May.