Turkey’s New Law Amending Parliamentary Election Procedures May Hinder Democracy

Turkey’s New Law Amending Parliamentary Election Procedures May Hinder Democracy
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Manon Picard

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

On the 20th of June 2022, the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (the Venice Commission) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE) published a Joint Opinion on Turkey’s “Amendments to the Electoral Legislation by Law No.7393 of 31 March 2022”. The Opinion was requested by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. 

Due to a change from a parliamentary to a presidential form of government in Turkey in 2018, Turkey needed to reform its electoral legislation in order to conform with international standards, norms, and practices. The Opinion therefore focused on Law No.7393 which “amends rules on the eligibility of contestants for parliamentary elections and their registration, the allocation of parliamentary mandates, the formation of electoral administration bodies […and] some aspects pertaining to voter registration”. 

The Joint Opinion acknowledges that positive steps were taken by Turkey as it made some amendments to its electoral legislation even though most amendments will have to wait another year before they enter into force. Nonetheless, the Venice Commission and the OSCE welcome two changes; in particular “the decrease of the election threshold from 10% to 7% as well as a new arrangement facilitating the participation of visually impaired persons in elections”. On the other hand, the Joint Opinion noted that the “election threshold remains […] among the highest in Europe even after its decrease” and gave the following few key recommendations to the Turkish authorities: 

“Making clear that the law does not introduce changes to the conditions for eligibility of political parties to participate in the elections that de facto are not possible to meet […] 

Reconsidering the modifications in the system for composing district and provincial electoral boards that replace the system of automatic appointment […]

Adding references to the President in Articles 65, 66 or 155 of Law No.298, where previously there were references to the Prime Minister […]

Reconsidering whether, with the 7% election threshold, the balance between the principles of fair representation and of stability of government is struck in the right way”.

Sources and further reading:

Council of Europe. (2022, June 21). Türkiye: Reducing threshold for parliamentary elections is welcome but other amendments could hamper inclusive democracy and impartiality of elections. Newsroom – Council of Europe. Retrieved on June 21, 2022, from https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/turkiye-reducing-threshold-for-parliamentary-elections-is-welcome-but-other-amendments-could-hamper-inclusive-democracy-and-impartiality-of-elections

Venice Commission and OSCE. (2022, June 20). Joint Opinion on the Amendments to the Electoral Legislation by Law No.7393 of 31 March 2022. https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2022)016-e