What will the new electoral bill bring for Turkey?

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The People’s Alliance has submitted its proposal to amend the electoral law to Parliament. As such, the debate over the early elections, which the opposition has repeatedly tried to revive, has completely lost its meaning.

The most controversial aspect of the bill – which proposes eight changes, such as lowering the threshold from 10% to 7% – is its intention to drastically reduce the influence of electoral alliances on the allocation of parliamentary seats. Experts have seen this attempt to ensure that the number of MPs from each party is determined by their respective share of the vote, rather than the largest parties within each alliance claiming a disproportionate share of those votes, as a step towards elimination of the impact of meaningless electoral alliances or alliances.

I strongly disagree with this argument.

Under the proposed rules, fringe parties, which are part of an alliance, can cross the 7% threshold and therefore claim parliamentary seats in constituencies where they have won enough votes to send their candidates to the Parliament.

Moreover, remaining a member of an electoral alliance remains important because of its impact on the presidential election.

Nevertheless, the fringe parties will indeed lose some of their advantage and, to some extent, their ability to negotiate terms relative to the system of electoral alliances that governed the 2018 elections.

What is the motivation?

There are many claims about what prompted this new arrangement. Some say the ruling alliance is seeking to drive a wedge between the six opposition parties, who are trying to work together and forcing a group of fringe parties to form a third electoral alliance.

It goes without saying that the project to reform the electoral system caught the opposition parties off guard. However, their initial reaction, very emotional, seemed exaggerated to me.

The new plan reflects a logic that seeks to reconcile “justice in representation” and “stability of government”. Of course, these proposed rules are likely to have an impact on the structure of existing electoral alliances.

It should be expected to highlight the role of political parties and improve the health of Turkey’s political party system. Instead of electoral alliances rooted in “electoral algebra” alone, this could encourage strategic partnerships based on a shared vision and political preferences. The new regulations would also strengthen party organizations and political platforms at the expense of political leaders with ambitions to govern.

The new plan, which should have been implemented in 2018, aims to ensure that the fragmentation of partisan politics in Turkey does not lead to the country being governed by “coalitional presidentialism” – a bad example of the presidential system, as it is known. see it in Brazil, which makes it impossible to govern.

As Associate Professor Nebi Miş, who is director of political research at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), posits that the representation of dozens of political parties in the National Assembly could corrupt this political arena rather to improve the quality of democracy in this country.

popular votes

One of the impacts of the system of electoral alliances, which the presidential system implies, has been to encourage politicians to form their own parties without really worrying about the popular support they would enjoy.

The accumulation of votes within electoral alliances, coupled with the need for presidential candidates to secure a simple majority, gave fringe parties more power than they actually wielded.

Among other things, this situation has made it more difficult for the pro-opposition National Alliance to expand or take collective decisions.

It remains unclear whether the proposed changes would have a negative or positive impact on the opposition. Decreasing the power of marginal parties in negotiations could either strengthen or undermine existing alliances.

The possibility that the Party of Democracy and Progress (DEVA), the Party of the Future (GP), the Party of Felicity (SP) and the Democratic Party (DP) end up having to stand for election within the main party opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) or Good Party (IP) tickets (or on the ticket of any party among them) would not prevent them from acting together as a united front of opposition or jointly support a presidential candidate.

While the CHP and IP will lose the ability to claim additional seats (through the allocation of “remaining votes” as in 2018), they will clearly be more comfortable with excessive demands from fringe parties – such as the equal representation and enough parliamentary seats to form a separate caucus for themselves.

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