Baku. 6 June. REPORT.AZ/ More than 53 million Turkish voters head to the polls on Sunday in perhaps the country’s most eagerly awaited general election in a decade.
Report informs referring to the Anadolu Agency, the vote will see 550 deputies from among 20 political parties and 165 independent candidates elected to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, representing 85 constituencies in 81 provinces for a four-year term.
Turnout is expected to be high. The 2011 general election saw 84 percent of the electorate vote.
Turkey elects its parliamentary representatives through a closed list system of proportional representation that sees a set number of candidates elected per district. In all but three cases a district corresponds to a province - only in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir provinces are there multiple districts.
Under this system, a political party must achieve a nationwide 10 percent threshold to achieve a single parliamentary seat - the highest threshold among the world’s democracies. Votes for any party that fails to achieve the threshold are distributed among the parties that pass the ten percent mark within the constituencies the unsuccessful party stood.
This means a party can secure a highest number of votes in one province but fail to actually gain any seats in the assembly because of a poor performance elsewhere.
The system, introduced following the 1980 military coup, works in favor of large parties but counts against smaller groups, meaning many smaller parties opt for their candidates to stand as independents and then “join” the party if they succeed in getting elected.
This year, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has mustered the confidence to stand as a party for the first time and its chances of securing ten percent have perhaps been the most hotly debated topic of the campaign.
If the party fails to achieve the target, which would translate into 50 to 60 seats, its votes will be redistributed among the other parties. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, as the party expected to gather the largest number of votes and as the only one of the three main parties to have a presence in the HDP's eastern and southeastern strongholds, will receive the lion’s share.
The extra votes will not just bolster the AK Party's chances of achieving a 276 majority but will also see it on the way to achieving the constitutional changes it wants to introduce after the election, namely changing Turkey from a parliamentary to presidential system.
To achieve this without resorting to a further plebiscite, the party needs 367 seats. If it reaches 330, it can put the proposed change to a referendum but below this the party’s goal of a presidential system seems doomed.