AK Party, MHP mulling possible alliance for 2019 elections

AK Party, MHP mulling possible alliance for 2019 elections

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are testing the waters to forge an alliance in the 2019 elections, as various options are on the table, recent media reports said.

Appearing on a Turkish TV channel late on Thursday, MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said that the alliance should be put in a legal perspective.

Stressing that any alliance in elections is illegal in Turkey for the time being, Bahçeli said: "If a change is to be made to the electoral laws … the alliance should be legalized." Demonstrating possible alliances on a sheet, Bahçeli called it the "People's Alliance."

Meanwhile, AK Party chairman, President and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is expected to meet with some AK Party authorities on Friday to discuss the issue. Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül and Parliamentary Constitutional Committee head Mustafa Şentop are reportedly expected to meet with Erdoğan in Istanbul.

Adjustment laws will be on the agenda in the meeting. Electoral laws and the new electoral system are the most mysterious topics for the time being. An alliance in the elections is not off the table. However, constitutional changes are needed to realize it.

Previously, top AK Party officials expressed their views regarding an alliance with the MHP. "We can go for an alliance with the MHP to provide the absolute majority with the most support possible," Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said earlier this week. "We think alike with the MHP on many issues. Why would we not take joint action with a party with which we take joint steps on many issues? There is no obstacle to that."

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also had his say on the issue. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday, Bozdağ said that the electoral laws are actually not against alliances. "However, there may be a need to draw the lines of the alliance after Bahçeli's statements. One can dwell on this, on the alliances. … The way ahead for alliances should be cleared."

After many constitutional changes were approved in the April 16 referendum, adjustment laws and changes to the electoral system must be made. Apart from changes to the top election board and local elections, general elections will also be changed. One of the alternatives is that Turkey be divided into 600 polling districts. Each district would vote for a deputy in the type of system that exists in the U.K.

Another alternative is for the division of each province into voting districts. Each district would vote for five or six deputies. In this system, for example, Istanbul would be divided into 20 voting precincts. Erdoğan has long been in favor of such a system.

The national election threshold is also an issue. The MHP has been calling on the AK Party to lower the threshold, which currently stands at 10 percent. Any party that fails to garner at least 10 percent of the vote in general elections is not entitled to sit in Parliament. The threshold law was adopted in a referendum after the 1980 military coup. The main aim of the threshold was to prevent political instability, as the previous system of proportional representation introduced with the 1961 Constitution led to fragile coalition governments in the 1970s.

The AK Party's work regarding alliances was also reported in the media. According to the AK Party's plan, parties will be represented on ballots with their emblems, parliamentary lists will be jointly prepared, votes will be counted as total votes of parties and parliamentary distribution will be made accordingly.

The MHP previously indicated that it would give the AK Party any assistance it needs in the making of adjustment laws. "If the ruling party sends a resolution to us, we would contribute to the adoption of adjustment laws at the earliest by analyzing and working on the resolution," Bahçeli said in early October.

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