Electoral system of Turkey

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The Electoral system of Turkey varies for general, presidential and local elections that take place in Turkey every four years, five years and five years respectively. Turkey has been a multi-party democracy since 1950 (officially since 1945), with the first democratic election held on 14 May 1950 leading to the end of the single-party rule established in 1923. The current electoral system for electing Members of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly has a 10% election threshold, the highest of any country.

A brief summary of the electoral systems used for each type of election is as follows:

General elections[edit]

The Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey (Yüksek Seçim Kurulu) oversees the distribution of parliamentary seats per electoral district

Turkey elects 550 Members of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly using the D'Hondt method, a party-list proportional representation system. In order to return MPs to parliament, a party needs to gain more than 10% of the vote nationwide, meaning that parties may win the most votes in certain areas but not win any MPs due to a low result overall. The parliamentary threshold of 10% has been subject to intense scrutiny by opposition members, since all votes cast for parties polling under 10% are spoilt and allow the parties overcoming the national threshold to win more seats than correspond to their share of votes. E.g. in the 2002 general election the AKP won 34.28% of the vote but won nearly two-thirds of the seats.

The parliamentary threshold does not apply to independents, meaning that Kurdish nationalist politicians who poll strongly in the south-east but are not able to win 10% of the overall vote stand as independents rather than as a party candidate. This was the case in the 2007 and 2011 general election, where the Kurdish Democratic Society Party and the Peace and Democracy Party fielded independent candidates respectively.

Proposals for reform[edit]

The main criticism of the current system is the high 10% threshold necessary to gain seats. In January 2015, the CHP renewed their parliamentary proposals to lower the threshold to 3% and proposed no changes to the proportional representation system, though the AKP are against lowering the threshold without wider electoral reform.[1][2]

In July 2013, the AKP prepared new proposals, named the 'narrow district system' (darağıltılmış bölge sistemi), to change the proportional representation system into either a first-past-the-post system or create smaller constituencies which elect a fewer number of MPs.[3] Under these proposals, the threshold would fall from 10% to either 7 or 8% while Turkey would be split into 129 electoral districts rather than the existing 85.[4][5] İstanbul itself would have been split into 17 or 20 districts.[4] The system will benefit the largest party as well as parties that are the strongest in certain regions, meaning that the AKP and Kurdish nationalist Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) would make the biggest gains. The two main opposition parties CHP and MHP do not have a substantial number of electoral strongholds, meaning that they would be negatively impacted by a narrow-district system.[3] Proposals by the AKP to create a full first-past-the-post system with 550 single-member constituencies were allegedly unveiled in December 2014, though any change in electoral law would have to be passed by parliament at least a year before the election.[6] The AKP's proposals for reform have raised concerns about gerrymandering.[4]

Electoral districts[edit]

Turkey is split into 85 electoral districts, which elect a certain number of Members to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The Grand National Assembly has a total of 550 seats, which each electoral district allocated a certain number of MPs in proportion to their population. The Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey conducts population reviews of each district before the election and can increase or decrease a district's number of seats according to their electorate.

In all but three cases, electoral districts share the same name and borders of the 81 Provinces of Turkey, with the exception of İzmir İstanbul and Ankara. Provinces electing between 19 and 36 MPs are split into two electoral districts, while any province electing above 36 MPs are divided into three. As the country's three largest provinces, İzmir and Ankara are divided into two subdistricts while İstanbul is divided into three. The distribution of elected MPs per electoral district is shown below.[7]

District MPs
Adana 14
Adıyaman 5
Afyonkarahisar 5
Ağrı 4
Aksaray 3
Amasya 3
Ankara 32
Ankara (I) 18
Ankara (II) 14
Antalya 14
Ardahan 2
Artvin 2
Aydın 7
 
District MPs
Balıkesir 8
Bartın 2
Batman 4
Bayburt 2
Bilecik 2
Bingöl 3
Bitlis 3
Bolu 3
Burdur 3
Bursa 18
Çanakkale 4
Çankırı 2
Çorum 4
 
District MPs
Denizli 7
Diyarbakır 11
Düzce 3
Edirne 3
Elazığ 4
Erzincan 2
Erzurum 6
Eskişehir 6
Gaziantep 12
Giresun 4
Gümüşhane 2
Hakkâri 3
Hatay 10
 
District MPs
Iğdır 2
Isparta 4
İstanbul 88
İstanbul (I) 31
İstanbul (II) 26
İstanbul (III) 31
İzmir 26
İzmir (I) 13
İzmir (II) 13
Kahramanmaraş 8
Kars 3
Kastamonu 3
Karabük 2
 
District MPs
Karaman 2
Kayseri 9
Kilis 2
Kırklareli 3
Kırıkkale 3
Kırşehir 2
Kocaeli 11
Konya 14
Kütahya 4
Malatya 6
Manisa 9
Mardin 6
Mersin 11
 
District MPs
Muğla 6
Muş 3
Nevşehir 3
Niğde 3
Ordu 5
Osmaniye 4
Rize 3
Sakarya 7
Samsun 9
Siirt 3
Sinop 2
Sivas 5
Şanlıurfa 12
 
District MPs
Şırnak 4
Tekirdağ 6
Tokat 5
Trabzon 6
Tunceli 2
Uşak 3
Van 8
Yalova 2
Yozgat 4
Zonguldak 5
Total 550

Changes since 2011[edit]

A total of eight electoral districts had their number of MPs adjusted since the 2011 general election by the electoral council, as listed below. The two electoral districts of Ankara also had their boundaries changed.[7]

The number of MPs elected per electoral district for the 2015 general election
District 2011 2015 change
Ankara 31 32 Increase1
Ankara (I) 16 18 Increase2
Ankara (II) 15 14 Decrease1
Bayburt 1 2 Increase1
Elazığ 5 4 Decrease1
İstanbul 85 88 Increase3
İstanbul (I) 30 31 Increase1
 
District 2011 2015 change
İstanbul (II) 27 26 Decrease1
İstanbul (III) 28 31 Increase3
Kütahya 5 4 Decrease1
Manisa 10 9 Decrease1
Muş 4 3 Decrease1
Ordu 6 5 Decrease1

Votes required per MP by province[edit]

Votes required for each MP in different provinces of Turkey

The number of voters in each province was announced on 17 May 2015.[8] In total, there are 53,741,838 voters in the provinces, which corresponds to 97,712 voters for each MP. However, because of the electoral system, this was not distributed equally to the provinces. In İzmir, where voters per MP was the highest, 118,669 votes corresponded to an MP, whereas in Bayburt, 27,089 voters were represented by an MP.

Two factors caused this more than fourfold disparity.[9] Namely, the electoral law favours provinces smaller in size, which caused İzmir, İstanbul and Ankara, Turkey's largest cities and provinces, to have the least representation per voter. Secondly, the distribution of MPs to provinces was based not on the number of eligible voters, but on total population, which made each vote more valuable in provinces with a young population. For example, the HDP stronghold Hakkari with 154,705 voters got 3 MPs, whereas Yalova with 166,060 voters got 2 MPs. Similarly, Van, another HDP stronghold with 596,809 voter got 8 MPs, whereas Muğla, a CHP stronghold with 665,608 voters got 6 MPs. In Şanlıurfa where AKP and HDP are strong, there were 12 MPs per 974,219 voters, whereas in Manisa, where CHP and MHP perform better than average, votes of 1,006,697 voters determined only 9 MPs. Yusuf Halaçoğlu's bill which would partly mitigate this disparity was rejected in the parliament.[10]

Parliamentary arithmetic[edit]

In order to form a government, a party needs a simple majority in the Grand National Assembly in order to obtain a confidence vote to govern. In order to pursue constitutional changes, a party needs either a three-fifths majority or a two-thirds majority, which give the government different powers. These are documented in the table below.

  • 276 seats – Form a government
  • 330 seats – Put proposed constitutional changes to a referendum (three-fifths majority)
  • 367 seats – Change the constitution without a referendum (two-thirds majority)

Local elections[edit]

2013 local government reform[edit]

Before the elections, the numbers of councillors and mayors were reduced during the 2013 Turkish local government reorganisation. During the reorganisation, 1,040 beldes were abolished, leaving the number of small town municipalities at 394 and contributing to the reduction in the number of mayors elected in 2014 in comparison to 2009.[11][12]

The following table shows the numbers of metropolitan and district municipalities, as well as provincial and municipal councillors elected in 2009 and in 2014. In local elections, municipal mayors and councillors are the only partisan officials elected.[13][14][15][16]

Office Elected in 2009 Elected in 2014 Change
Metropolitan municipalities 16[13] 30[17] Increase14
District municipalities 2,903[14] 1,351[18] Decrease1,552
Provincial councillors 3,281[15] 1,251[19] Decrease2,030
Municipal councillors 32,392[16] 20,500[20] Decrease11,892
Total 38,592 23,132 Decrease15,460

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Erdoğan: Barajı biz mi getirdik – Gerçek Gündem". Arsiv.gercekgundem.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  2. ^ "CHP, ‘seçim barajı yüzde 3 olsun’ teklifini yineledi | Gerçek İstanbul / İstanbul Haberleri". Gercekistanbul.com. 1983-10-06. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Dar bölge seçim sistemi AK Parti ve BDP’ye yarıyor-Ankara Haberleri". Zaman.com.tr. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  4. ^ a b c "Dar bölge büyük partinin yararına – Hürriyet GÜNDEM". Hurriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  5. ^ "AKP'nin seçim tuzağı hazır: Yüzde 7–8 baraj, daraltılmış seçim bölgesi | soL Haber Portalı | güne soL'dan bakın" (in Turkish). Haber.sol.org.tr. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  6. ^ "550 seçim bölgeli 'dar bölge sistemi' – Gündem Haberleri". Sabah.com.tr. 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  7. ^ a b "Yuksek Secim Kurulu Baskanligi" (PDF). Ysk.gov.tr. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  8. ^ "25. Dönem Milletvekili Genel Seçimi İl/İlçe/Mahalle/Köy Seçmen ve Sandık Sayıları" (PDF) (in Turkish). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bir milletvekili için kaç oy gerekiyor?" (in Turkish). Akşam. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "'Milletvekili sayısında adaletsizlik var'" (in Turkish). Doğan News Agency. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Haber news (Turkish)
  12. ^ Ordu news (Turkish)
  13. ^ a b "Official 2009 metropolitan municipal results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Official 2009 district municipal results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Official 2009 provincial councillor results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Official 2009 municipal councillor results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Official 2014 metropolitan municipal results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Official 2014 district municipal results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Official 2014 provincial councillor results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Official 2014 municipal councillor results" (PDF). Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey. Retrieved 4 August 2014.