A draft that amends the Electoral Law in Turkey was approved in the Constitutional Committee of the Parliament on Monday, despite objections from the opposition parties. The draft law is to be discussed in the General Assembly on Tuesday.
Throughout their 19 years of governance the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have had a long history of rectifying electoral law just prior to elections and in favour of their political interests. The general elections 10% national threshold, introduced after the military coup in 1980, did not change for 40 years.
Alliances were introduced to the law in the controversial 2017 referendum when the Turkish Constitution was changed. To be elected president, the new presidential system requires a majority of the popular vote, which creates the need to form alliances.
Recent amendments in an introduced draft have now drawn serious concern and reactions from the opposition parties.
Mahmut Tanal, MP for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said on Monday that the new amendments are likely to include a requirement for everyone to vote only in neighbourhoods where they’ve been registered for at least three months. He explained how this will complicate things for university students living in different cities, and particularly for first-time voters who are not familiar with the procedures.
Voter surveys show that the ruling coalition of AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have much less support in this group compared to the opposition, so the new requirement is likely to have a negative impact on the votes of the latter.
The requirement will also impact seasonal workers during next year’s June elections because their workplace may be very distant from their hometown.
Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki, MP for the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has a substantial voter base among seasonal workers and said:
“If you have temporarily moved to somewhere else, you have to go to your former address in order to be able to vote. You will have to spend a lot of money for this, for the travel, possibly for accommodation, and for the food that will not be provided by the employer. Poor people or students will not be able to afford this. We are planning measures for this. We will be helping our voters travel to locations they will be voting.”