By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish parliament has ratified Tuesday a bill which paves the way for electoral alliances among political parties.
After a 20 hours of deliberation, lawmakers approved the 26-article bill that sets up the framework for forging electoral alliances in the country.
The bill, submitted by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Feb. 21, states a political party can back another during elections. It bears the signatures of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli.
The bill makes the most significant changes with regards to threshold rules.
In general elections, a political party must receive 10 percent of the votes nationwide for any of its candidates to win a seat in parliament. Now, only the alliance needs to pass the 10-percent threshold in order for the parties to claim seats in parliament.
Ballots will bear the name of the alliance juxtaposed to that of the candidates whose parties have decided to proceed with forging an alliance.
The parties that decide on making an alliance should submit an application to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) within seven days after the election calendar is announced.
Other changes include the age of candidacy being lowered to 18 for local elections.
On Jan. 8, MHP leader Bahceli announced that his party would support Turkish President and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2019 presidential election rather than field a candidate of its own.
Ahead of a constitutional referendum last April, both the AK Party and MHP campaigned for the sweeping package of changes.
In the referendum, Turkish voters approved a package of constitutional changes handing wide-ranging executive powers to the president and also allowing the president to retain ties to a political party.
The MHP has also worked with the AK Party on foreign policy issues, particularly since the July 2016 defeated coup orchestrated by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which martyred 250 people and injured some 2,200 others.
Next year's elections will be Turkey's first under the new presidential system of government. Parliamentary and presidential elections are to take place in November 2019. Local elections are scheduled for March 2019.