|Press Release: ECtHR Grand Chamber in Hearing Today on Turkey’s Election Threshold|
The case of Yumak and Sadak v. Turkey is being heard today by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
In the parliamentary elections of 3 November 2002 the applicants stood as candidates for the political party DEHAP (Democratic People's Party) in the province of Sirnak. As a result of the ballot, DEHAP obtained approximately 45.95per cent in the province, however their party did not secure 10 per cent of the national vote. The applicants were not elected, in accordance with Turkish electoral law, which states a party must obtain at least 10 per cent of the national vote in parliamentary elections in order to win seats in the National Assembly. Consequently, of the three parliamentary seats allotted to Sirnak province, two were filled by the AKP (Justice and Development Party), which obtained just 14.05 per cent of the provincial vote and the third by an independent candidate who obtained 9.69 per cent of the vote.
In a judgment of 30 January 2007 the European Court of Human Rights held by 5 votes to 2 that there had been no violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (right to free elections). However, it also noted that it would be desirable for the threshold to be lowered in order to ensure optimal representation, while preserving the objective of achieving stable parliamentary majorities. The case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the applicants' request.
Commenting on today’s hearing KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz stated: “it is significant that in its January judgment, the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that Turkey fails to achieve optimal representation due to the 10 per cent threshold. KHRP hopes the Grand Chamber will go further, and find that such a high threshold is out of step with European electoral norms, and a violation of the right to free elections as provided for by Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR”.