The na­tional con­sen­sus be­tween the AK Party and MHP is a good op­por­tu­nity for Turk­ish pol­i­tics to ex­pe­ri­ence a smooth tran­si­tion to the new sys­tem

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - NAGEHAN ALÇI

THE RE­FORMS ini­ti­ated with the April 16 con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­en­dum will be im­ple­mented step by step rather than pur­su­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary path

This week, Par­lia­ment rat­i­fied the elec­tion al­liance bill that was pre­pared jointly by the Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party ( AK Party) and the Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment Party (MHP). It will al­low po­lit­i­cal par­ties to form al­liances in gen­eral elec­tions but what else does the bill en­tail? What kind of changes will it lead to in Turk­ish pol­i­tics?

First of all, I would like to re­mind read­ers of the gen­eral frame­work of the pro­ce­dure: A law passed by the Par­lia­ment will be sub­mit­ted to Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan for ap­proval. Af­ter be­ing ap­proved by the pres­i­dent, it will en­ter into force when it is of­fi­cially an­nounced in the Of­fi­cial Gazette.

The most sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ation the bill has in­tro­duced is the of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion of al­liances be­tween po­lit­i­cal par­ties for the first time. For­merly, some par­ties went to the polls to­gether, but this is reg­u­lated on le­gal grounds with the bill. The al­liances will be writ­ten on vot­ing pa­pers and the votes of al­ly­ing par­ties will be counted to­gether while the num­ber of par­lia­ment mem­bers will be de­ter­mined ac­cord­ing to the to­tal vote al­ly­ing par­ties re­ceive.

The bill pre­serves the 10 per­cent elec­tion thresh­old in the Turk­ish elec­toral sys­tem, but it is con­sid­er­ably more likely to ex­ceed the thresh­old by form­ing al­liances. So, a party which is pro­jected to re­main un­der the thresh­old can en­ter Par­lia­ment with other par­ties un­der the um­brella of an al­liance.

Es­sen­tially, it seems that the bill aims to en­cour­age al­liances and ren­der the Par­lia­ment less frag­mented.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties can join al­liances with their own can­di­date lists and em­blems, or they can run for the elec­tion with the lists or em­blems of the al­lied par­ties. The stamps on any of the al­lied par­ties will be counted for the to­tal vote of the al­liance. The in­de­ter­mi­nate votes in which it is not clear what party of the al­liance is voted for will be dis­trib­uted par­al­lel to the fi­nal vote shares. There will be no lim­its re­gard­ing the num­ber of par­ties in an al­liance.

Has the AK Party, which spoke about de­creas­ing the 10 per­cent elec­tion thresh­old be­fore the April 16 ref­er­en­dum, given up this tar­get? I spoke to sev­eral lead­ing names within the party in­clud­ing the Par­lia­ment's Con­sti­tu­tion Com­mit­tee head, pro­fes­sor Mustafa Şen­top. They un­der­scored that they have not given up their tar­get to make break­through changes in the elec­toral sys­tem, in­clud­ing de­creas­ing the thresh­old, and added that they aim to make ma­jor changes in the af­ter­math of the 2019 elec­tions.

As far as I can see, the re­forms ini­ti­ated with the April 16 ref­er­en­dum will be im­ple­mented step by step rather than pur­su­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary path. In other words, the im­ple­men­ta­tions of the amend­ments will be as­sessed for a while, their pos­si­ble re­sults will be con­sid­ered, and the route for re­forms will be mapped out ac­cord­ing to the short­com­ings ex­pe­ri­enced.

First, the func­tion­ing of the new sys­tem will be ob­served and its in­ad­e­qua­cies will be re­paired so that the sys­tem will not reach on im­passe un­less the con­se­quences of the changes are fully com­pre­hended. It is thought that a highly frag­mented Par­lia­ment, who can­not pass bills, might con­sti­tute a set­back in the tran­si­tion to the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem. There­fore, only cer­tain changes will be made dur­ing this tran­si­tion pe­riod whereas the main sys­tem will set­tle af­ter the 2019 elec­tions.

Turk­ish law­mak­ers dis­cuss on the rul­ing AK Party and op­po­si­tion MHP agree­ing on elec­tion al­liance bill at Par­lia­ment, cap­i­tal Ankara.

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