Opposition parties speculate early elections will be held

Opposition parties speculate early elections will be held

Being a journalist based in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, enables you to have access to all of the country’s political parties.

You get the chance to hear clearly what is being spoken in the parties’ offices in parliament and have the chance to hear them before they go public, and those kept secret.

Opposition politicians I have been speaking with recently have been asking if there will be an early election.

When I ask them what makes them think there will be snap elections, they give the following reasons:

“Removing job security concerns of those outsourced, a boost in employment, regulations concerning businesspeople, the way political issues like the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital are being handled, a rise in nationalist and religious statements, the prime minister and president delivering speeches targeting the opposition every day… These all indicate Erdoğan is preparing for early elections.”

When I asked main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu if his party was expecting an early election, he said “maybe.” He suggested the snap elections can be held before the financial situation gets worse.

In a meeting we had with İYİ (Good) Party chairwoman Meral Akşener on Dec. 15, she said there was a rumor that an election could be held on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Islamic conservative Felicity Party (SP) head Temel Karamollaoğlu claimed politicians preferred having elections during harvest season to canvass votes from farmers. Hence, his party expects elections to be held in the autumn of 2018.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli is currently working on forming alliances, making people think that the MHP is the most eager party to support snap elections.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been saying the elections will be done on time, but they also say they are preparing for the elections as if they were being held tomorrow.

Which election can be held early?

There are three upcoming elections: Local, general and presidential. But the question is which one will be held first.

Like most opposition groups, Akşener believes the AKP will hold the presidential and general elections first, and then the local elections, because they are less popular in local polls.

Besides, in order to change the local elections’ date, a constitutional change has to be made.

Even though the AKP has the support of the MHP, it still will not be able to postpone local elections to a later date, as it needs to be approved by a referendum. And general elections can only be brought to an earlier date with the majority of votes in parliament.

A provisional article in the constitution, brought by the April 16 referendum, requires presidential elections to be held together with general elections, thus, supporting the speculation that they can be both done before the scheduled date.

But it looks unlikely that the AKP would add the possibility of local elections to the other two.

The names most likely to stand against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener.

At a meeting of the Turkish Social, Economic, and Political Research Foundation (TÜSES), which was attended by Kılıçdaroğlu, Karamollaoğlu and İYİ Party representative Nuri Okutan, the roadmap of opposition parties became clearer.

Opposition parties are expected to enter the first round of the elections with their own candidates, but support a joint candidate in the second round.

Their joint requirement for endorsement is the return to the parliamentary system.

Can Abdullah Gül change the plans?

Lately we’ve been seeing former President Abdullah Gül entering the scene more.

It is being claimed that Gül is mulling running for president “not for politics but to rule the country” in the new system.

Another option being considered in Ankara is to hold the elections according to the old system, with a decision by the Constitutional Court. Akşener says she heard this from a reliable source and many in parliament are talking about this. But it does not sound realistic to me.

We will, however, continue to research.

Meral Akşener, Ankara, politics, TBMM, Abdullah Gül, AKP, MHP, CHP, opposition, main opposition, analysis, opinion, Devlet Bahçeli