January 6, 2015 / 3:11 PM / 4 years ago

Turkey's top court declines to lower 10 percent electoral threshold

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s top court declined on Tuesday to rule on proposals to lower a 10 percent threshold for parliamentary representation, broadcaster NTV said, a move which could help Tayyip Erdogan increase his presidential powers after forthcoming polls.

It is also a blow to the Kurdish HDP party - whose support hovers around the threshold - in the run-up to elections due in June. Exclusion of the HDP from parliament could affect efforts to negotiate an end to a 30-year-old rebellion in the southeast.

The Constitutional Court ruled it was not competent to order a change in the threshold, meaning the electoral law will remain as it is. It gave no further clarification.

The court’s decision comes less than a week after its head said members were coming under “intense pressure”, and during a period in which tensions between the government and the judiciary have risen sharply.

Critics accuse Erdogan of undermining the independence of the judiciary, something the President denies.

A parliamentary commission dominated by Erdogan’s AK Party voted on Monday not to commit for trial four former ministers accused in a police corruption investigation the President has dismissed as a coup attempt.

Erdogan has targeted a two thirds majority in parliament for AKP, which would ease the way for planned constitutional changes to bolster his powers as head of state.

In the 2011 elections, Kurdish candidates ran as independents before forming the party after being elected, but HDP’s leaders have this time said they want to stand as a unified party.

If any party fails to reach the threshold, their votes are re-distributed proportionally, meaning AKP, which seems almost certain to emerge as the most popular party, would be the main beneficiary.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun and Asli Kandemir, writing by Jonny Hogg, editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton

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