Speaking on the occasion of World Human Rights Day, which was marked on Wednesday, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Umut Oran said the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s policy to defend a 10 percent election threshold which was introduced by coup leader Kenan Evren in the 1980s should be considered a violation of human rights.
Turkey currently uses a proportional election system with a party list, also known as the d’Hondt system, as opposed to a plural-majority or semi-proportional system. A 10 percent national election threshold was added to the present system to produce stronger parties and avoid fragmentation and unstable governments.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman in Parliament, Oran claimed that human rights does not have any value for the AK Party as it uses coup time practices to retain its political power. According to Oran, the election threshold is one of the reasons for today’s distorted political system, which causes millions of votes below the threshold to go to waste. Oran said one of the most meaningful steps today to take for human rights and a free future in the country is to fight against the election threshold.
Quoting from a meeting he had last week with President Gianni Buquicchio of the Venice Commission, the advisory body to the Council of Europe, Oran noted that not more than a 5 percent election threshold is acceptable according to European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) standards.
Oran, who made an individual application on Dec. 3 to the Constitutional Court to remove the election threshold because it violates individual rights, said the top court — or more specifically, its president, Haşim Kılıç — recently stated that it is considering whether the election threshold is a rights violation. Oran told Today’s Zaman it is necessary to have a reasonable election threshold to bring a government into power which defends a secular and democratic state of law.
However, according to Article 67 of the Constitution, no changes to the election law that are introduced less than a year before an election will be put into effect for that election. Oran stated that he had requested both the removal of the threshold and an order that a decision on that removal take effect immediately, as the issue is about the violation of a right.
If the Constitutional Court finds that the current 10 percent election threshold violates individual rights because it is too high, and that the verdict must be put into effect immediately, this would deal a heavy blow to the ruling party, which has won dozens of “extra seats” in Parliament thanks to the extremely high threshold.
Kılıç said on Nov. 30 that the top court is expected to deliver a verdict within a couple of weeks regarding whether or not the 10 percent election threshold should be applied in the upcoming elections.