Pro-Kurdish party leaders criticised Turkey’s 50+1 electoral threshold, with Tülay Hatimoğulları on Tuesday labelling it a “male plus male” system to underscore its role in perpetuating male-dominated politics, and Tuncer Bakırhan pointing out its exclusivity.
The debate over Turkey’s 50+1 electoral threshold has been reignited, following recent comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli. Amid this renewed discussion, Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) Co-Chairs Tülay Hatimoğulları and Tuncer Bakırhan have voiced strong criticism against the current electoral system.
President Erdoğan, returning from Germany, sparked controversy by suggesting a departure from the 50+1 rule, claiming it leads political parties down wrong paths. This marks a significant shift from his earlier stance, where he ended the debate initiated by the Erdoğan-led ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) member Faruk Çelik in 2019, stating that the matter was not on their agenda.
In contrast, Bahçeli, a long-time proponent of the 50+1 system, dismissed the criticisms as “absurd”, staunchly defending the threshold. He argued that the system is crucial for ensuring a majority-backed presidency and dismissed suggestions of its modification as detrimental to the political system’s functioning. Bahçeli’s remarks, consistently advocating for the 50+1 rule, underscore the divide within the ruling coalition.
Meanwhile, HEDEP’s Tülay Hatimoğulları and Tuncer Bakırhan sharply criticised the 50+1 system. Hatimoğulları argued that the system fails to represent all political parties fairly, advocating for a more inclusive and democratic electoral process:
“Erdoğan seems to think of the Constitution as a piece of paper to be crumpled and a toy to be played with at his whim. Oh Erdoğan, you were the one who introduced 50+1. The AKP government, under your personal leadership, has pioneered an authoritarian regime. The personal leadership you embody has been instrumental in constructing a one-man regime. For us, 50+1 means a system dominated by men. Even if it were to be lowered to 40+1, it would still signify male dominance. We in HEDEP advocate for the direct representation rights of all political parties. We need a democratic system. There is no need for us to engage in constitutional manipulations just because Erdoğan’s votes are falling. Thus, we will take our place in these discussions in this manner.”
Bakırhan echoed these sentiments, emphasising the system’s failure to encompass the broader society and its potential to lead the country into chaos. He criticised the current political structure for lacking representation of diverse societal segments, suggesting that a more inclusive approach is crucial for the nation’s stability and democratic health.
The 50+1 system, initially designed to ensure strong executive leadership, is now at the centre of a crucial debate about the future of Turkish democracy and governance.