Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to push through measures with its nationalist allies that affect how political groups may contest elections and could hamper new opposition parties taking part in any snap elections, Reuters reported.
The move comes after two of Erdoğan’s leading long-time allies, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former economy chief Ali Babacan, formed separate political parties in recent months to challenge the ruling AKP.
Three AKP officials told Reuters there is no intention of holding elections before the scheduled polls in 2023. The planned measures are not meant to block new parties but rather to prevent a political maneuver used in the past, they said.
In 2018, 15 parliamentarians from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) switched to the new İYİ (Good) Party so that it could contest snap elections by forming a parliamentary group. One AKP official said the new measures will stop parties from forming parliamentary groups in this “unethical way.”
The measures would lower the threshold for parties to enter the assembly to 5 percent of the vote from 10 percent but crucially for new parties would prevent tactical transfers like those made in 2018. The government expects to submit the changes to parliament in June, the AKP official said.
The CHP has signaled it would offer support to the new parties, prompting senior AKP official Naci Bostancı to say his party is working with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies to prevent attempts to “market” lawmakers in an anti-democratic way.
To take part in elections, parties must have held a congress and formed a party structure in half of Turkey’s provinces or already have a group of at least 20 MPs in parliament – criteria that the two new parties do not yet meet.
“It’s clear that any legal regulation about political parties is being brought on the agenda to prevent new parties like ours from entering elections,” said a senior official from Babacan’s Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party.
Selim Temurci, spokesman for Davutoğlu’s Future Party (GP), said his party was on the verge of meeting the conditions of the law and will hold a congress in August.