May 7, 2023

The elections this time may involve surprises, not only because of a decline in the popularity of one party or another popular advance, but also as a result of the amendments to the election law, which observers are likely to have unexpected repercussions on the distribution of parliamentary seats.

The number of articles amending the election law reached 14, some of which provide more opportunities for small parties by lowering the electoral threshold, while others restrict these parties by depriving them of some of the advantages of entering into electoral alliances.

The ruling coalition – which prepared the draft law – said that it aims to reform the electoral system, reset the influence of alliances on the distribution of representatives to become more equitable, and give electoral alliances a strategic character instead of turning them into a gathering of marginal parties capable of imposing their visions on the larger parties by bargaining over its sounds. On the other hand, the opposition saw that the law aims to avoid the decline in the popularity of the ruling party and its partner, and to weaken opposition alliances.

In the following, we learn about the most prominent amendments to the new election law, which commentators saw as changing the rules of the electoral game in the country.

Lower the electoral threshold

The new election law included lowering the electoral threshold from 10 to 7%; Any political party running in elections must obtain this percentage to enter parliament.

The threshold of 10% has ensured, for decades, that Parliament will consist of only 4 to 5 large parties, and it aims to prevent the entry of small and marginal parties, which leads to the dispersion of parliamentary blocs. While opinions agree on the need to reduce it, the disagreement is based on the optimal rate. In general, reducing it to 7% will enable a greater number of small parties to contest elections and enter Parliament.

The electoral threshold is for the party, not for the coalition

The new law now requires a party to enter Parliament to achieve the electoral threshold with its own votes in each electoral district separately, and it is no longer sufficient for its entry to Parliament to cross the threshold.

This means that the chances of small parties entering Parliament have decreased significantly, which has significantly reduced the importance of electoral alliances.

Preventing the transfer of representatives and abolishing the parliamentary bloc condition

The amendments also included preventing deputies from moving from one party to another, and deeming the presence of a parliamentary bloc of the newly formed party eligible to run in the elections even if it did not meet the organizational requirements.

To make it easier to understand the significance of this double amendment, the most obvious example in this regard is the maneuver that the Republican People’s Party undertook in 2018 when it granted 15 deputies to the Good Party, after it defected from the nationalist movement and left it with 5 deputies at the time, and this was with the aim of meeting the condition of having 20 deputies. in order to contest the elections.

And without borrowing deputies from the Republican People’s Party, the good party would have had to have held at least one general conference and formed an organizational structure in half of the Turkish provinces 6 months before the date of the vote, which the party was not able to provide after announcing the early elections.

Complete the regulatory requirements for eligible parties

This amendment is complementary to the previous one, as it aims to tighten the conditions for the participation of new parties in the elections, unless they complete their organizational structure and hold their periodic conferences according to periods and conditions specified in the law.

After canceling the consideration of the parliamentary bloc as a sufficient condition for running in the elections, the amendments stipulated that the party obtaining the eligibility to participate in the elections should hold its conferences at the level of districts, governorates, and major bodies twice in a row in the last 6 months before the elections. The previous law only held organizational conferences once during the same period.

Who benefits from the amendments?

Saeed Al-Hajj, a researcher specializing in Turkish affairs, believes that the new law will first target the newly established small parties, especially the Future, Democracy and Progress parties, along with the Peoples’ Democratic Party.

In a previous article on Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Hajj saw that the law reduces the chances of small parties allied with large ones, so that it is difficult for them to win outside the constituencies in which they have overwhelming popularity, even if they allied themselves with the strongest existing parties.

However, the head of the Metropole Center for Opinion Polls, Oser Singer, believes – in a previous comment – that most of the changes that have been made are technical adjustments, but the ruling coalition mainly aims to reduce the impact of alliances, and yet these amendments may be in favor of each of the ruling coalition and oppose it too.

A research by the SITA Center for Studies in Ankara concluded that lowering the electoral threshold in the last amendment is not against small parties, but in favor of them, and that alliances are still mandatory for small parties to cross the threshold.

It is noteworthy that the small parties affiliated with the Six-Party Alliance decided to run in the elections within a unified joint list with the Republican People’s Party, while the Good Party preferred to run in the elections with its own lists while cooperating with the “Republican People” in some circles.

Source: Al Jazeera

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