The court rejected the appeals on Thursday of three political parties, the Democratic Left Party (DSP), Great Union Party (BBP) and Felicity Party (SP), due to a "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction."
Appeals to the court can only be against practices and negligence of legislation, not directly against the legislation itself, the court ruled. Two members of the court's general board, Osman Alifeyyaz Paksut and Erdal Tercan, gave opposing views. The top court's decision came ahead of the upcoming general elections in June.
The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is one of the parties expected to come close to the 10 percent threshold in the June elections. In the current system, political parties in Turkey must have at least 10 percent of votes nationwide to gain parliamentary representation, the highest such threshold in Europe. In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey's election threshold did not violate the right to free elections and was not a violation of human rights, but it did add that it would be "desirable" to lower it.
Turkey's election threshold has been a topic of debate for some time, with minor parties and parties whose votes hover around the threshold consistently calling for a lowering of the threshold.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has recently commented on the election threshold debate and said that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has no concern over the threshold. "It isn't the AK Party that brought out the election threshold regulation. Our party has come to this point through the votes of our citizens. However, it was those who were afraid of the threshold that declined President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan's call as prime minister at the time to remove the election threshold," Davutoğlu said in a speech at the AK Party's regular parliamentary group meeting in December.
Similar debates on the election threshold have taken place in previous years, and even international judicial decisions have been made on the matter. In response to an application to lower the threshold, the Constitutional Court determined in 1995 that the 10 percent election threshold did not violate the principle of equitable representation.
Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights earlier decided in 2007 and 2008 that Turkey's election threshold does not violate the right to free elections and is not a violation of human rights. The Strasbourg-based court ruled in favor of Turkey in a 5-2 decision, saying that the threshold aimed at ensuring stability in the country's politics. A lowering of the current 10 percent election threshold was offered by the AK Party in 2013 as part of reforms that were announced as a democratization package on Sept. 30, 2013.
The AK Party proposed three alternatives in the democratization package – maintaining the 10-percent threshold, reducing it to 5 percent or removing the threshold altogether and fully implementing the single-member district system.