ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s parliament on Thursday passed a law lowering the minimum required votes for a party to enter parliament to 7% from 10%, in a move could reduce the likelihood of early elections this year.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and its nationalist MHP allies had presented the draft election law, which included regulations on parliamentary seat distribution in alliances between parties, to parliament on March 14.
The bill was widely expected to become law given the ruling alliance’s majority. It is set to take effect in about a year, suggesting Erdogan – whose opinion polls have touched their lowest in years – could hold off calling an early election.
Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in June 2023 and the AKP and MHP have repeatedly said they would be held at that time.
However, before the bill was introduced, some analysts had said Erdogan might want an earlier vote before a possible further slide in the polls, amid economic turmoil and soaring inflation caused by his push for low interest rates late last year and, more recently, the conflict in Ukraine.
Seeking to topple the long-ruling Erdogan, six opposition parties have formed an alliance and announced a sweeping new governance plan to be implemented if elected.
Analysts have said lowering the threshold was aimed to divide the opposition and earn more seats for the governing parties by luring smaller parties to defect from the opposition alliance.
Support for the AKP has dipped to around 31% from its 42.6% in the 2018 election, according to recent polls that also show MHP support falling to around 7% from 11.1%. Together they hold 333 seats in the 600-seat parliament.
(Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell)