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The Electoral System and the 2007 Elections: Effects and Debates

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Over the last 50 years, Turkey's electoral system has been subjected to frequent changes. It is still the subject of controversy, since it has significant effects on the functioning of the political system. Following the introduction of a form of proportional representation in 1961, its most controversial feature is the provision that no party winning less than 10 percent of the national vote is entitled to any seats in parliament, which has been applied since 1983. The effects of this were particularly striking in the 2002 elections, in which only two parties exceeded the threshold. In 2007 it also appears that it heavily influenced the voters' choices, with a significant flow of votes away from the small parties towards those which were expected to exceed 10 percent. Small parties also took steps to evade the threshold, either by trying to form alliances with their bigger rivals or by running their candidates as nominal independents, to whom the 10 percent rule did not apply. Further changes to the system can be expected as part of the new Constitution, which is expected to be enacted in 2008. The conclusion is that some important changes may be emerging in the structure of the party system, partly arising from a more realistic appreciation of the effects of the electoral system on the likely result by both voters and parties.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabancı University, Istanbul, Turkey

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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