HDP bid to ditch threshold is out of fear of losing custodial votes
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
ISTANBULJul 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
Jul 15, 2015 12:00 am
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) presented a legislative proposal for removing the 10 percent national election threshold on Wednesday on the grounds that democratic practices are overshadowed by the need to provide political stability.
Bearing the signatures of HDP Group Deputy Chairs İdris Baluken and Pervin Buldan, the proposal points out that countries that implement proportional representation have electoral thresholds ranging from 1 percent to 5 percent.
Along with this latest development, the reason for the HDP proposal and the likely consequences in the event of the removal of the election threshold is a matter of debate. Officials from some research centers are of the opinion that the HDP has realized the dangers of losing the custodial votes it received from social democrats and conservative Kurdish voters who previously voted for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Mehmet Murat Pösteki, head of the ORC research company, said that the HDP foresees that in the event of snap elections, it may not pass the threshold.
"The main reason of this proposal is the HDP observing its social democrat votes in the west and conservative Kurdish votes in the east with 2 percent to 3 percent about to switch back. In likely snap elections, which are more likely than a coalition government, the HDP remaining under the threshold comes into question," he said.
Pösteki also underlined that some who cast custodial votes for the HDP are regretful since they realized that the party is of no use after the elections. "Custodial votes will disappear once it is realized that the HDP is of no use. Thirty-five percent of HDP voters became remorseful due to the party's attitude after the elections. That [loss] would keep the party under the threshold and that's why they made such an attempt," he remarked.
GENAR President İhsan Aktaş, additionally pointed to the HDP's extraordinary motivation for preventing the AK Party from forming a single-party government during its election rallies would be gone out if the electoral threshold is abolished. Aktaş said: "In this situation, this motivation would disappear and even if votes won't decrease in half, there would be a serious loss."
"Kurdish voters always seek a solution. They understood that the HDP's 80 deputies are not solving the problem. Accordingly, they will seek a new solution and the removal of the threshold triggers this quest," he added.
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Social Research Center following the announcement of the election results, 22 percent of those who voted for the HDP in the elections, when asked whether their votes were custodial, answered affirmatively.
In the same study, 5 percent of those who voted for the HDP said that they decided which party they would vote for just before the polls and 8 percent of HDP voters in the survey indicated that they would vote for a different party in the event of snap elections.
The fact that the AK Party reportedly received one vote only in 1,400 ballot boxes of three Kurdish-populated cities in the June 7 general elections casts doubt on the reliability of the conditions of the elections in southeastern Turkey.
Pressure and death threats by pro-PKK HDP supporters continued to target locals living in Turkey's southeastern provinces after the June 7 general election results were announced, and some people have even been forced to abandon their homes.