Turkey’s Erdogan looks at lowering presidential election threshold 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted at plans to change the constitution to introduce a new presidential election threshold that is lower than the current one set at over 50 percent, the T24 news portal reported on Tuesday.

Erdogan on Tuesday stated that his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is considering changes to Turkey’s constitution, which currently stipulates that a presidential candidate must receive over 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

Currently, if there is no presidential candidate who secures more than 50 percent of the vote, the second round of voting is held with the top two candidates battling it out.

The president answered reporters’ questions following an opening ceremony for the new legislative season of parliament in the capital city of Ankara.

When asked about his party’s plans to lower the presidential election threshold, Erdogan on Tuesday he said it would require a constitutional change.

“We will conduct our preliminary preparations and bring the matter to Parliament,’’ he said.

Faruk Celik, a former minister and founding member of Turkey’s ruling AKP government, argued a day earlier that the country’s presidential election must be lowered to 40 percent.

“The current “50+1 formula would fatigue Turkey,” Celik, who is currently a board member in the state-owned Ziraat Bank, told local Turkish daily Olay on Monday.

A presidential candidate who receives 40 percent or more should be elected Turkish president in the first round of the polls with there being no run-off, he added.

The statements of Erdogan and Celik came after the approval rating of the former dropped by almost 10 percent in the past year, according to the data of the Ankara-based pollster MetroPOLL.

The poll titled “Turkey’s Pulse August 2019” showed that those who approve of Erdogan as Turkey’s president dropped from 53.1 percent last year to 44 percent, while those who say they do not approve of him saw an increase of more than 10 percent, from last year’s 38.2 percent to 48.5 percent.

The governing AKP suffered its greatest setback since coming to power in 2002 during the March 31 local elections, when they lost five of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including business center Istanbul and capital Ankara to the main opposition party.

What provided a basis for the declining support for Erdogan, according to financial experts analysts, is Turkey’s 2018 economic crisis that sent the lira on a downward spiral against the U.S. dollar.

Adopted in July 2018 following a national referendum, Turkey’s new executive presidential system allows the president to rule with only limited checks and balances.

The next presidential election is scheduled to be held in Turkey in 2023.

Erdogan’s approval rating falls dramatically

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