Erdogan changes Turkey's electoral laws to bolster his rule

Skyrocketing inflation is hurting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's electoral base. PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (BLOOMBERG) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved on Wednesday (April 6) a set of changes to the country's electoral rules that would bolster his party's prospects and consolidate the shift toward an all-powerful presidency set to be tested at the ballot box next year.

The amendments reduce the threshold for a party to enter Parliament, but make it harder for smaller parties to win seats on their own, forcing them to run on tickets dominated by bigger rivals.

The changes also close a loophole that would have allowed the country's main pro-Kurdish party, currently the third-largest in Parliament, to circumvent a potential ban.

Under the new regulations, the President will be exempt from rules that ban ministers from using state resources to organise their campaigns or attend rallies.

Faced with skyrocketing inflation that is hurting his electoral base, Mr Erdogan is doing his best to weaken political rivals who already run Turkey's most important cities.

He is also working to set back former allies who helped him rise to power but parted ways as he began to concentrate decision-making into his own hands. Some of them have joined an opposition alliance that aims to redress the balance and reinvigorate Turkey's parliamentary system.

Mr Erdogan suffered stinging defeats in city elections in Istanbul and Ankara in 2019 and has seen his popularity wane amid pandemic-induced hardship, but opponents have yet to unite behind a candidate to challenge him.

The election is expected in June 2023 but no date has so far been set.

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