The Electoral Threshold Case in Turkey

According to recent statements made to a journalist by the President Hasim Kilic of the Turkish Constitutional Court,[1] the Court will soon deliver a decision on the 10% electoral threshold that exists for political parties to be represented in Parliament in a case brought before the Court by three political parties through the constitutional complaint, also known as the “individual application” mechanism. The statement made by Justice Kilic has led the Court to confront a difficult situation, once again. A heated public debate has already begun around the issue.[2]

Pursuant to Article 33 of the Law No. 2839 on the Election of Members of the National Assembly, the election threshold in Turkey is 10% of valid total votes cast nationwide.

The positions of the political parties, which are currently in the Parliament, vis-à-vis the electoral threshold can be summarized as follows. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), the government party, supports the threshold for the obvious reason that the threshold favors its majority and power, despite its earlier promises to abolish the threshold. The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) supports abolition of the threshold, and has made many calls for it. Another opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supports the threshold, because according to the MHP any lower threshold will allow the pro-Kurdish political movement to gain more representative power. Hence, it is clear that the pro-Kurdish political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is firmly for abolishing the threshold. In fact, members of an earlier pro-Kurdish political party brought a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The case was decided by the ECHR (the Grand Chamber) in 2008 in the case of Yumak and Sadak v. Turkey ...

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